The 'Caps travel down the West coast for a vital match, with both sides lagging behind the playoff contenders.It's coming down to the wire in the Major League Soccer regular season, and one of the most important things a team can have is momentum.
Momentum can keep you taking points where it seemed there would be none. It can make your feet and your heart seem lighter in stoppage time. It can be the difference between soccer cleas and golf cleats come November.
At this stage of the season, San Jose (10-11-7, two wins from last four games), has some momentum. Vancouver (10-10-7, winless in last four) has none. Both teams need a win to retain a reasonable chance of making the playoffs; on 37 points apiece, they're tied for the worst record of any Western Conference side not called "Chivas USA."
Between these two and the playoff spots is FC Dallas, a team that most definitely, finally has momentum after half a season of perilous freefall, and beyond the Hoops, in the promised land, are the "reachable" playoff teams: Los Angeles on 43 points and Colorado and Portland on 42.
But to catch up with these postseason-aiming teams, a deficit of at least five points must be erased in just six or seven games. And that's going to require some momentum.
History and math are both on Vancouver's side. It has one more game to try and make up that deficit, and in seven all-time meetings with the 'Quakes, the 'Caps are 3-1-3, with a win and a draw against San Jose already this season.
They'll also have a personnel advantage, since San Jose players Steven Lenhart and Rafael Baca are suspended and the Earthquakes have an extensive injury list, with Nana Attakora (concussion related symptoms), Mehdi Ballouchy (R ACL tear), Ty Harden (R hip surgery), Tommy Muller (Lower back spasms)
Marcus Tracy (R knee inflammation) and Mike Fucito (R ankle fracture) all on the trainer's table, while Vancouver will be without just three players: Brad Rusin (R ankle sprain), Omar Salgado (R foot fracture) and Simon Thomas (L ankle sprain).