Chester, PA – The San Jose Earthquakes moved to the top of the Western Conference for the first time since returning to MLS last weekend, and the club will try to maintain that lofty perch with a win at the resurgent Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
The 'Quakes secured a 3-1 win against Real Salt Lake last Saturday, the club's fourth in five games, and defender Steven Beitashour believes his team will just continue to do what it has done to reach its current status.
"We're still going to do what we do, regardless of whether we're at the bottom, middle or top [of the table]," Beitashour said. "We're just going to keep working hard, get better every day and never be content even if we're in third, second or first. We've just got to keep working and give 100 percent effort, and I think we'll stay up there."
San Jose's depth will be tested in the coming week as the club faces a string of three games in eight days, leaving head coach Frank Yallop with some lineup decisions to make.
"There will be lineup changes," Yallop said. "You can't travel all the way over [to Philadelphia], come back and be dynamically fresh Wednesday night, if you've played 90 minutes. I've got to look at what we're trying to do over the three matches. A lot of the guys are going to get minutes. I've just got to figure out the combinations that are going to play well against Philly."
After earning only one point from its first four games this season, the Union has collected two successive wins to turn their season around.
"At the beginning of the season for a couple of weeks, it wasn't pretty," Union manager Peter Nowak said. "But right now it looks we found a good recipe to be hard to play against."
Part of that recipe includes a stout defense that has not given up a goal in 332 minutes, the third-longest streak in MLS this season.
That streak could be jeopardy Saturday as defender Gabriel Farfan was sent off in the 1-0 win over Chivas USA last weekend, and he received an additional two- match suspension on Friday from the league for "the egregious nature of the challenge itself as well as for failing to leave the field in an orderly manner."
Nowak himself will miss the next two games through suspension after being sent off late in the win over Chivas.
"I know I was in the wrong spot," Nowak said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday. "I shouldn't have been on the field. So that's my fault to get involved like this."