Santa Clara, CA – San Jose returns to the comfort of Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday, but the Earthquakes will be without a pair of center backs and a forward against the Colorado Rapids.
Forward Steven Lenhart and defender Jason Hernandez were both sent off against the Montreal Impact last week. Defender Victor Bernardez was handed a one-game ban Wednesday by MLS for an incident in the same match, a 3-1 Impact win.
San Jose (14-6-5) coach Frank Yallop will have to navigate Western Conference rival Colorado without three important options, but the advantage of Buck Shaw could be enough to compensate.
The Earthquakes, who have the top record in MLS, are unbeaten at Buck Shaw all season. Their lone home loss was at an alternate home venue, making the Quakes 8-1-3 overall in home matches.
San Jose has the most points in MLS, but is winless in its last four games on the road. With just a one-point lead over Sporting Kansas City for the overall MLS lead, the Earthquakes have to defend Buck Shaw.
"All the teams in the league are pretty equal, so it is never easy to win away from home," Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said after last week's loss.
"Montreal played well ... and took advantage of their chances. We took it on the chin a bit, but we will regroup, and we are looking forward to Colorado at home."
Although Yallop admitted after the fixture last week "I'm not sure why Lenhart got sent off," he will have to lean even more heavily on Chris Wondolowski for the match against the Rapids.
Wondolowski leads MLS with 18 goals. He scored last week, and had the winning goal in a 2-1 win in Colorado in June.
Colorado (8-15-2) led the match until late, when San Jose scored twice to grab three points. The Rapids have five losses and a tie in games they scored first this season, including a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA last week.
"(San Jose is) a team who's doing well," Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan said. "We dominated them here and the same thing happened again (blowing the lead). We have to solve the problems and put our chances in."
Colorado coach Oscar Pareja has lived the nightmare too many times, but a win at San Jose would refocus his club for a late playoff run. The Rapids are just one place off the bottom of the West and 11 points out of a postseason spot.
With just two wins against 10 losses on the road, Colorado would be happy to escape the visit to San Jose with even a point - as long as they don't score first. In that case, Pareja would like the club to finish the match.
"It's like a movie," Pareja said. "I thought the game was leaning towards us and we had chances and options, and defensively, we played very well. And we came out with one point (last week).
"That's the way it is, but it's disappointing. There was a lot of positive things for sure, I thought our guys performed very well. But you have to have that killer instinct, that instinct to just put the game away."