The Vancouver Whitecaps may still be near the top of the standings, but they certainly haven't played like it in their last three outings. The Whitecaps dropped two straight to the Seattle Sounders by matching 3-0 scores, and followed that up with a frustrating 2-1 loss to NYCFC last weekend.
It means the Whitecaps/Earthquake matchup this weekend will have a little extra drama added to it, with the 'Caps looking to regain some swagger, and the Earthquake looking to push for a playoff spot, as they currently sit just one point under the post-season bar.
The Injury Report
According to WhitecapsFC.com, the 'Caps continue to get healthy. Nicolas Mezquida will likely miss the match with injury, but he looks to be the only one.
Designated Players Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero, who appeared as substitutes last weekend against New York City FC, both trained on Thursday. So did San Jose native Steven Beitashour, who missed the last two matches with a knee sprain. All three players appear to be in contention for the weekend.
The return of players like Morales from injury are an obvious boost for the club, and you would hope that Morales can put together a nice run of matches here to close out the season strong. Obviously injury has played a part, but it's largely been a year to forget for the Captain.
It's pretty clear where the Whitecaps need to focus their defensive efforts if they want a good chance in the match. Chris Wondolowski currently sits fifth in the league in goals with 15, which is 10 more than the next player on the 'Quakes roster. It's clear Wondo is the pulse of the attack, and I imagine he'll be seeing a steady dose of Matias Laba and Kendall Waston as the match wears on.
On the Whitecaps side, they need their stars to step up. Octavio Rivero has just one goal in his last six outings, Kekuta Manneh hasn't scored in five straight, and Mauro Rosales hasn't scored since July 26th, although he's primarily known as a set-up man. Cristian Techera has been a notable exception, with 4 goals in his last six appearances.
San Jose at Home
The San Jose Earthquake have played very well at home, sporting a 7-3-5 record. In those games, the Earthquake have recorded seven clean sheets, and six one goal games, which could make life difficult for the 'Caps, who have scored just one goal in their last three matches overall.
That being said, the Whitecaps have an above .500 record away from the confines of BC Place at 7-6-2, and the small travel time shouldn't affect them too much.
Prediction: The hungry Whitecaps take down the desperate Earthquake 2-1. Bonus gut feeling: Wondo will score.
The match goes Saturday at 7:30 pm.