Santa Clara, CA – The San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC are both in desperate need of three points and they will hook up at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday.
Both sides bring lengthy winless streaks into the match, with San Jose going six games without a victory, while TFC's winless run has reached seven contests.
And although both teams could use a few more wins to improve their respective positions in the league, both sides haven't been in bad form, just a bit unlucky in some cases.
Toronto's total of seven points from its first nine games is not an impressive number, but head coach Ryan Nelsen feels as though the performances from his team have warranted more.
"One day when hopefully we bring in a witch doctor or the black cat leaves, we'll turn these games into wins. The effort is there and you can see that they have made progress," Nelsen said of his team.
TFC has certainly not been as poor as their record might indicate, with all four of the club's losses coming by one goal, while Nelsen has seen his side give up late goals in each of its last four games to drop points.
The worst result of the season by far for TFC came in an embarrassing 6-0 defeat against Montreal in the Canadian Championship last week. But despite a 1-0 loss to Colorado on a late goal from Edson Buddle, Nelsen was pleased with the reaction from his team.
"I wasn't surprised by their reaction [to the loss in Montreal]. I knew they would come back and deliver a performance like that. I thought it was an excellent performance, especially playing at altitude. They had some great opportunities to score and reward their hard work," Nelsen said. "We're learning as a team and we'll always stick by the boys. They really tried hard and worked their socks off tonight."
San Jose has drawn four of its last five games, and many of which have come in the final minutes.
The Earthquakes were known for their late heroics last season, and although they have produced their share of dramatic moments this term, it is usually to earn a point in a comeback effort.
"We need to sort it out, because it's something we can't do, especially at home," midfielder Sam Cronin said of the Quakes' propensity for falling behind. "Playing well is all good and well, but it's a results-driven league. We've got to get results, find a way to get the winning mentality back."
San Jose has away matches against Western Conference rivals Seattle, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake in the coming weeks, so rediscovering that winning formula soon is a must for Frank Yallop's team.
"Right now, we're just on the wrong end of a lot of these chances," Cronin said. "It's unlucky, but [through] a team mentality and just fight and battle, you kind of make your own luck. So we've got to do a better job there."