The San Jose Earthquakes want to finally break out on the road, but the host Vancouver Whitecaps will look to defend their “castle” when the two Western Conference rivals meet on Sunday.
Only a single point separates sixth-place San Jose (8-7-8, 32 points) and seventh-place Vancouver (8-7-7, 31 points). The near-identical records extend to similarly drastic home/away splits. The Earthquakes are 7-1-4 at home and 1-6-4 on the road, while the Whitecaps are 1-5-3 on the road and 7-2-4 on their home field.
Following Sunday’s meeting, eight of the Whitecaps’ last 11 matches are on the road, including a month-long stretch from Aug. 26 to Sept. 27. While the Whitecaps obviously want to improve their road form, Vancouver CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster noted the added importance of maximizing home points.
“If we win all four home games, we’re definitely in the playoffs. … You have to build your foundation at home,” Schuster said. “So for that reason, I think our home has been a castle for now a long time, and it’s tough to come here and play here.”
During the transfer window, Vancouver acquired defenders Richie Laryea and Sam Adekugbe, while the Earthquakes added forwards Matthew Hoppe and Ayo Akinola on loan deals.
“I look to adapt quickly. … I think the transition has been really smooth and it makes it easy for me as a player since I’m able to just focus on the game now,” Hoppe told Earthquakes broadcaster Ted Ramey this week.
Both teams might need their newcomers to make up for key absences. Luis Martins (calf strain) is out for the Whitecaps, while Judson (knee surgery) and Jackson Yueill (suspension) are unavailable for San Jose. Carlos Akapo and Jack Skahan (lower-body injuries) are also questionable for the Earthquakes.
San Jose was undefeated (1-0-2) in three matches prior to the Leagues Cup break, with Cristian Espinoza tallying goals in each match.
Espinoza’s 11 goals are the fourth most in MLS this season. The Earthquakes rewarded his production last month with a contragct extension that will retain Espinoza through at least the 2025 season.
Whitecaps striker Ryan Gauld has seven goals and five assists over his last eight regular-season matches.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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