In Pictures: Seattle Sounders leave it late to lock in Knockout Round bye for 2018 MLS Playoffs

The Seattle Sounders kept momentum going as they left it late to beat San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at CenturyLink Field on MLS Decision Day. A Raul Ruidiaz brace was enough to earn three more points, securing a Knockout Round bye in the Western Conference.

Seattle’s incredible end-of-season run has seen them lock in yet another playoff campaign. And they’ll head into their Western Conference semifinal in full confidence, given the way they stuck together to beat the Quakes on Sunday.

Chad Marshall’s own goal had dampened the mood around CenturyLink Field but Seattle stuck together and kept the pressure on San Jose’s goal. It paid off. Ruidiaz equalised in the 79th minute and then secured the win in dramatic style in the third minute of stoppage time.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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Gallery: Exclusive images from Seattle Sounders impressive 3-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes

The Seattle Sounders kept their strong run of form going with a convincing 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday. The Sounders were missing all three Designated Players and Jordan Morris too. But that didn’t stop them as they proved too good for the Quakes at CenturyLink Field.

The game was goalless at halftime but the Sounders simply blew San Jose away in the second half. Cristian Roldan opened the scoring in the 54th minute. Then, two minutes later made it 2-0. Seattle made sure of the result in the 65th minute when Kelvin Leerdam tapped in at the back post from a Joevin Jones corner.

Sunday night’s game marked Leerdam’s first MLS start since moving to Seattle at the start of the month. He impressed with a goal and assist. While Joevin Jones again proved how dangerous he is, so the Sounders now have two attacking full-backs to hurt teams with.

The win means Seattle have now picked up three-straight victories and are up to fifth in the West. However, San Jose have suffered three consecutive losses and are not outside the playoff spots. Their hopes of a top-six finish seem to be taking knock after knock at the moment.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Paul Kahl and Denise McCooey.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy
Venue: Stanford Stadium – Saturday, July 1 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)
Match Odds: SJ Earthquakes 5/6 – Draw 12/5 – LA Galaxy 3/1

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes do battle with local rivals LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium for the second Californian Clasico of the season on Saturday night, with the two rivals separated by just a point coming into Week 18.

San Jose are one point ahead of LA, having played one game more, and know they need to get revenge for their 4-2 home defeat to their West-coast rivals just over a month ago.

The Earthquakes are now preparing for their first MLS game since sacking Dominic Kinnear earlier this week in a move that took many people by surprise, particularly off the back of last Saturday’s 2-1 win over RSL.

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The Quakes advanced past Seattle 2-1 on Wednesday night in the US Open Cup in Chris Leitch’s first outing as head coach. But he knows that Saturday’s Clasico will offer a much tougher test. The home fans will expect a win, but they’ve only managed one in their last seven clashes against the Galaxy.

The visitors arrive having eased past Sacramento Republic in Wednesday’s Open Cup clash, but they will still feel disappointed at losing their first MLS outing in nine last weekend, as Sporting KC emerged victorious from StubHub Center last Saturday.

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Curt Onalfo has got his side looking more solid than they did through the first six weeks of the season but they still have a big job at hand if they are to seal a place in the playoffs, let alone challenge for a sixth MLS Cup title.

The boost for LA is that they’ve already beaten San Jose this season in that 4-2 win a few weeks back. That was one of the Galaxy’s four away wins from their last five road games, with the only other result in that stretch a 0-0 draw at DC United, so they should arrive at Stanford Stadium in high spirits.

Team News

San Jose will be without Nick Lima after he was sent off in last weekend’s clash with Real Salt Lake. The Quakes also have six players sidelined through injury, with Quincy Amarikwa, Marvell Wynne, Marc Pelosi, Harold Cummings, Florian Jungwirth and Fatai Alashe all out.

LA Galaxy are definitely without four players as Robbie Rogers, Sebastian Lletget, Baggio Husidic and Brian Rowe are injured, while doubts are hanging over Daniel Steres, Jermaine Jones, Raul Mendiola and Bradley Diallo. Gyasi Zardes won’t be available as he is part of the USA’s Gold Cup squad that play Ghana on Saturday. Giovani Dos Santos will also miss out as a result of his participation at the Confederations Cup with Mexico.

Key Points

SJ Earthquakes’ form: W/L/L/D/W

LA Galaxy’s form: W/D/D/W/L

Key Stat: San Jose Earthquakes have only lost one of their last 11 home games in MLS, but that was to LA Galaxy back in May.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The San Jose veteran knows what it takes to win a Californian Clasico, given the fact this will be his 17th derby clash against LA. He has scored five in his last seven games against the Galaxy and will look to hurt them again here.

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Score Prediction

SJ Earthquakes 1-1 LA Galaxy – It’s tough to separate the rivals coming into this weekend’s clash. Both had midweek cup successes and that might take its toll on a few members of each squad but a game of this magnitude requires full concentration from start to finish. Both will expect to score but ultimately, we see this one ending all square.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Thursday, October 13 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Colorado 19/20 – Draw 11/5 – San Jose 3/1

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids take on the San Jose Earthquakes in a rare Thursday night MLS clash, with the home side looking to go top of the Supporters’ Shield standings with just two weeks of the regular season to go.

The Rapids have had a great season and have already guaranteed a playoff berth. But they will have eyes on the main prize right now, considering they’re only two points off league leaders FC Dallas so this game in hand is a big one for the Colorado fans.

A 3-2 win in Houston on Saturday kept them on track for the Supporters’ Shield and a win at home here would put them in a great position with just two more regular season games to play after Thursday night’s clash.

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For San Jose, it’s a really tough fixture at a really tough stage of the season. A whole of first-team players are unavailable and Dominic Kinnear’s men are six points off the playoffs coming into this one.

A win for the Quakes would make them believe they can secure a top six finish, but that’s a real tough ask considering they have one of the league’s worst away records this season.

A 2-1 victory at home to RSL ended a seven-game winless run last time out but it would take something very special for the Quakes to qualify for the playoffs over the final two weeks.

Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes

 

Team News

Colorado Rapids may line up with the same side that beat Houston at the weekend. Dillon Serna, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Burling all remain out, while Kevin Doyle and Sean St Ledger are doubts. Dominique Badji looks set to lead the attack after scoring two at Houston last time out.

San Jose travel to Colorado without a whole host of first-team stars. David Bingham and Chris Wondolowski are with the US National Team and won’t feature, while Quincy Amarikwa, Marc Pelosi, Mark Sherrod, Clarence Goodson, Kip Colvey, Jordan Stewart and Alberto Quintero are all injured.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ last five: W/D/D/W/W

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: D/D/L/L/W

Key Stat: Colorado Rapids are unbeaten in 15 home games in MLS, picking up the third-highest points total at home of all sides this season.

Key Player: Shkelzen Gashi – The Albanian playmaker is the Rapids’ top goalscorer this season with eight. He has six of those in his last nine and looks to be in great form at the playoffs edge closer.

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Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes – Games between these two don’t produce many goals and that trend is likely to continue on Thursday night. The Rapids should get back to winning ways at home and will move to the top of the league if they do manage to seal all three points. Don’t expect this to be the most thrilling of ties, but the Rapids should edge it.

MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York City FC

Venue: Avaya Stadium – Friday, August 5 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)

Match Odds: San Jose 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – NYCFC 12/5

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes welcome Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC to Avaya Stadium on Friday night in a huge tie for both of these sides.

The Quakes come into this one off the back of consecutive draws, the latter of the two ending 1-1 away at Houston.

Dominic Kinnear’s side are sitting 8th in the Western Conference, three points outside of the playoff places, but they do have two games in hand on the three sides directly above them.

San Jose have won just one of their last ten games. They are going to have to improve on that run of form if they are to push their way back up the table but will be aware of how much of a test this tie could be.

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New York City FC bounced back in the best way possible from their 4-1 derby defeat, with a 5-1 win over Colorado last time out.

Patrick Vieira’s side have been in inconsistent form over the last five games, winning three and losing two, so although they remain top of the East, there is still room for improvement.

City will see this as a tie they can win given San Jose’s recent run of form, but they will know that the home side have proved difficult to beat at Avaya Stadium, losing just one of their last 15 in front of their own fans.

NYCFC faced San Jose once in their inaugural season. They won that tie 3-2 at Yankee Stadium and they’ll be hoping to take a 2-0 lead in the overall series against Friday’s opponents here.

Frank Lampard NYCFC, MLS: New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Team News

San Jose Earthquakes have five players on their injury list as Marc Pelosi, Mark Sherrod, Clarence Goodson, Bryan Meredith and Kofi Sarkodie are all expected to miss out.

New York City FC have just two injury concerns as Connor Brandt and Shannon Gomez are out. David Villa returns after his suspension for yellow card accumulation last weekend.

Key Points

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: L/L/W/D/D

New York City FC’s last five: W/L/W/L/W

Key Stat: San Jose Earthquakes are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 games at Avaya Stadium.

Key Player: Frank Lampard – The record-breaking midfield goal-machine comes into this one off the back of his and NYCFC’s first MLS hat-trick. He will be full of confidence and you wouldn’t put it past him to continue his scoring run. Lampard has eight goals in his last eight games.

Frank Lampard, MLS: New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Score Prediction

San Jose Earthquakes 1-2 New York City FC – San Jose to lose just their second home outing in 16 games. New York City have been inconsistent but they’re in a better run of form than the hosts. Given the fact they’ve scored 11 goals in their last five games, you have to fancy them to just edge this one, even if it is away from home.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, July 22 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – SJ Earthquakes 3/1

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake take on San Jose Earthquakes in this week’s Friday night MLS game, kickstarting Week 20’s action with an intriguing Western Conference clash at Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL come into the contest in fourth place in the West, but are only a point above the playoff line, so there is no time for complacency as Jeff Cassar’s men look to make a swift return to the postseason.

The worry for Real Salt Lake coming into this one is that they’ve not won in their last five outings. They have drawn their last three home games and have only scored twice in their last five matches.

Fatigue could also be a worry as RSL faced off against Italian club Inter Milan in a friendly on Tuesday night, leaving them with just 72 hours to recover for Friday’s contest.

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They will see Friday’s game as the perfect chance to recover and get back on track, but another poor performance would turn a small blip into a real concern, with back-to-back road games to Eastern Conference sides coming up after this one.

San Jose will arrive at Rio Tinto Stadium in high spirits. They pulled off a remarkable victory last weekend by ending a seven-game winless run against Toronto FC, despite playing 40 minutes with nine men.

Dominic Kinnear knows his side must now build on that inspiring display by picking up more points and will see Friday’s game as a winnable contest, with RSL struggling for form.

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The worry for the Quakes is that they have a number of key players missing through injury. Squad depth will be tested here in what should be an intriguing battle between two sides desperately looking to enter the final stretch of the regular season in good form.

This will be the first meeting between the sides this season. They will face off again in San Jose on the the third-to-last weekend of the season, at which point their playoff chances will be a lot clearer.

Team News

RSL will remain without Emery Welshman and Sunday Stephen, who are both still ruled out through injury. On top of those two, Jamison Olave and Danilo Acosta are both doubts and may not be fit enough to play here.

San Jose picked up two red cards last weekend but both Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero have seen their suspensions rescinded so both are eligible. However, Dominic Kinnear has a long injury list to worry about, with seven players on the sidelines. Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi, Mark Sherrod, Bryan Meredith, Kofi Sarkodie, Marvell Wynne and Kip Colvey are all set to miss this one.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s form: L/D/D/L/D

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: D/D/L/L/W

Key Stat: Travel sick – San Jose have failed to win any of their last 11 MLS games away from home.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The Quakes star has not scored an MLS goal in three months but he will be desperate to end that run as soon as possible. This should be the sort of game that ‘Wondo’ thrives in. It is expected to be tight, but he only needs to find a yard of space inside the penalty area to hurt the RSL defence.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes – There is very little to choose between these sides heading into Friday’s game. RSL may suffer from their midweek friendly with Inter, but then San Jose have a number of key men out, so neither side looks in a strong position to kick on and win this match. A low-scoring draw looks most likely.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: Toyota Park – Friday, July 1 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Chicago 11/8 – Draw 9/4 – San Jose 2/1

Match Preview

Chicago Fire take on San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night, kickstarting an action-packed weekend of MLS action at Toyota Park.

The Fire have endured another frustratingly poor season so far. They sit bottom of the Eastern Conference and are nine points off the playoff places.

That said, they have played fewer games than anyone else. They have to now make the most of their games in hand if they are to challenge for a top six finish over the second half of the campaign.

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Chicago come into Friday night’s game off the back of last weekend’s 4-3 defeat to Philadelphia in what was their seventh loss of the year. They are a better side at home though, having not lost any of their last three at Toyota Park, and will hope to keep that run going here.

San Jose have yet to win away from home this season. They are now winless in ten consecutive away matches in MLS and so this looks a tough one to call.

The Quakes have had a mixed season so far. They have only suffered four defeats this term but have managed to record just five wins too.

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The fact is that Dominic Kinnear’s men are drawing too often. They have shared the points in four of their last five and as a result have slipped out of the top six in the West.

This will be the 15th MLS clash between the two sides. There is nothing to split them based on their previous league encounters, with each team winning five and the other four clashes ending in ties.

Team News

Chicago Fire have four injury worries coming into the game. Collin Fernandez, Matt Polster, Arturo Alvarez and Joey Calistri are all sidelined and won’t feature. The club also terminated Gilberto’s contract on Wednesday so he is no longer with the side.

San Jose boss Dominic Kinnear has a long injury list to deal with at a crucial stage of the season. Clarence Goodson is a doubt with a back problem, while as many as six are definitely ruled out: Victor Bernardez, Kip Colvey, Andres Imperiale, Jordan Stewart, Mark Sherrod and Marc Pelosi. The boost is that Chris Wondolowski is back from the Copa America and will be in line to return to the side.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/D/L/L

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: D/D/L/D/D

Key Stat: San Jose have not won any of their last ten away games in MLS.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The Quakes star man is back from international duty and will now try and get San Jose back to winning ways. San Jose have not won since ‘Wondo’ has been away and so the club’s top scorer will undoubtedly bring confidence back into the team.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes – There is so little to choose between these two heading into Friday’s game that a draw looks inevitable. Chicago are tough to beat at home, while San Jose struggle on the road. Both are desperate for three points but that could lead to a tight affair. Score draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: Camping World Stadium – Saturday, June 18 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 13/10 – Draw 23/10 – San Jose Earthquakes 21/10

Match Preview

Orlando City and San Jose Earthquakes go head-to-head at Camping World Stadium on Saturday as Major League Soccer returns following a two-week international break.

Orlando City have only won once in their last nine MLS matches, which is quite dreadful considering they are expected to challenge for a playoff place this year.

With Kaka expected back, as well as Cyle Larin, Orlando will want to kick start a run of form that can send them into the postseason for the first time.

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They will need to harness their strong home support for the rest of the campaign and Saturday’s clash with San Jose offers a good chance to pick up three important points.

The Quakes have had a few rough seasons but now they have a good chance at making the playoffs, as Dominic Kinnear has built a very good squad.

Key man Chris Wondolowski is still away with the USMNT, while pacey forward Innocent Emeghara is still on his way back from injury, so San Jose are a little light in the final third ahead of this one.

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The next five games could be crucial for the Quakes as they host LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and FC Dallas in the coming weeks. They must continue to pick up points on a consistent basis if they are to secure a top six finish come October.

This will just the second meeting between the two sides. Last year’s clash in San Jose saw the pair share the spoils after a 1-1 draw in a game that saw Chris Wondolowski net his 100th MLS goal.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Pedro Ribeiro, Darwin Ceren and Rafael Ramos through injury. Kaka should return from the injury that ruled him out of Brazil’s Copa America squad, while Cyle Larin os also back having only been involved in friendlies while away on international duty.

San Jose Earthquakes are missing Marc Pelosi, Clarence Goodson and Mark Sherrod through injury. Innocent Emeghara and Matheus Silva are both doubtful. The worry is that Chris Wondolowski is still away with the USA and he is unlikely to be back in time for Saturday’s game. Alberto Quintero, Anibal Godoy, Kip Colvey and Simon Dawkins have all returned from international duty, though.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/L/W/D/D

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: L/W/D/D/L

Key Stat: Orlando City are now unbeaten in their last 13 home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Cyle Larin – The Canadian forward has been in fine form this season and has become a key part of this Orlando side. His presence will be key on Saturday yet again.

MLS: NYCFC vs. Orlando Cyle Larin

Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes – San Jose likely to suffer without star striker Chris Wondolowski, who will be sorely missed. That absence will make a tricky away fixture even more of a challenge and we expect Orlando to win this one as a result, with Adrian Heath’s side looking in good shape ahead of this one.

Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s 2-0 win over San Jose

The Seattle Sounders picked up their third win from their last four games as they beat San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 on Saturday night in a highly entertaining game at CenturyLink Field.

Goals from Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris sealed the win for Seattle, who managed to keep a clean sheet against a San Jose side that hadn’t been shutout in 22-straight games.

The Quakes had a great chance to score when Chris Wondolowski stepped up to the penalty spot in the 84th minute with the score at 1-0, but the striker could only find the post.

Morris then secured the win five minutes later with his fourth goal in as many games. Seattle are eighth in the Western Conference, just two points behind San Jose who sit fifth.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Joevin Jones Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Tyrone Mears Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Clint Dempsey Victor Bernardez Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, March 19 – 22:30 ET (02:30 GMT)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 1/2 – Draw 16/5 – SJ Earthquakes 11/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host San Jose Earthquakes in the first California Clasico match of 2016 on Saturday night, with the Quakes looking to continue their impressive start to the new campaign against their fierce rivals.

LA followed up their 4-1 opening day win over DC with a disappointing 1-0 defeat in Colorado last weekend. They conceded in the fifth minute of stoppage time and will have been left deflated after putting in a solid performance on the road.

Bruce Arena knows his team are much stronger at home and will be desperate to see his side pick up a second win of the campaign on Saturday.

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With the quality and experience in the Galaxy side, they should be able to manage the occasion of a big derby and will expect to beat San Jose.

The Quakes are not to be taken lightly, however. Dominic Kinnear has watched his side beat Colorado and Portland through the first two weeks – the first time San Jose has won its first two games of an MLS season in franchise history.

They will be hoping to keep momentum building but a trip to StubHub Center is always a tricky one. San Jose haven’t won away at the Galaxy since 2012, although a victory here would really solidify their chances of success this term.

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The home side won each of the three regular season meetings last season, with the Galaxy recording a 5-2 victory in the only game at StubHub Center – the most goals scored in a California Clasico game in the 20-year history of the rivalry.

More goals could be on the cards here as the Galaxy will be out to show they are still a team to be feared across MLS. San Jose will look to exploit that on the counter-attack in what could be an exciting contest.

Team News

LA Galaxy will continue to be without goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, so Brian Rowe will continue between the sticks. Giovani Dos Santos is still a doubt, while the same applies to Alan Gordon, Jeff Larentowicz and Leonardo. Mike Magee will hope to start for a second consecutive week alongside Robbie Keane.

San Jose are without six players for the trip to LA. Marc Pelosi, Cordell Cato, Jordan Stewart, Chad Barrett, Shaun Francis and Andres Imperiale will all miss out once again as Dominic Kinnear looks set to name an unchanged side to the one that beat Portland last weekend.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s form: W/L

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: W/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in four-straight home games against San Jose Earthquakes (W2 D2).

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Irish forward scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season and will be hoping to find the net again on Saturday. He netted in the Galaxy’s opening game and always plays better at StubHub Center. He is a constant threat to opposing defences and will look to cause San Jose problems from the outset.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes – This should be a close contest but LA Galaxy have to be favoured at home. The Quakes will expect to hurt them but will likely come up just short in what should be an exciting game.