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San Jose Earthquakes aim to stretch winning streak to five against Columbus Crew

A win or draw will push the Quakes’ home unbeaten streak to ten games, best since 2013.

Valeri "Vako" Kazaishvili has scored in three straight games for the San Jose Earthquakes as the team has risen to fourth place in the Western Conference standings. (Neville E. Guard/USA TODAY Sports)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes finished the month of July on a high note, beating the Colorado Rapids 3-1 and extending their winning streak to four games. With the visit of the Columbus Crew to Avaya Stadium on Saturday, they’ll be looking to stretch that to five.

But the Crew won’t be pushovers, as they arrive in the Bay Area having won consecutive games, coming back for a 3-2 win against the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Prior to their two-game winning streak, Columbus struggled mightily, suffering through a 10-game winless streak. Which Crew team shows up is still to be determined.

The Quakes have not lost to the Crew in six games at home (3-0-3), including a 2-1 win at Avaya Stadium during the 2017 season. Chris Wondolowski scored the game winning goal in San Jose’s victory that evening. If he were to score on Saturday against Columbus, the Quakes captain would take his 2019 season total to 10 goals, the tenth straight season of double-digit goals for the MLS career scoring leader.

Wondolowski missed most of the week’s training in San Jose, as he was representing the Earthquakes in the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday. Wondo featured in the last 30 minutes of that match, a 3-0 loss to Atletico Madrid during a rainy night in Orlando. He has started the last 11 games for the Quakes, scoring all nine of his season’s goals in that span. Wondolowski is not expected again start against the Crew.

The hottest attacker on the field for San Jose of late is Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili, who has scored six goals and added two assists in his last seven matches. His blistering performances have landed him on the MLS Team of the Week four out of the past five weeks, including last week following his Goal of the Week worthy game winner against Colorado.

The Earthquakes last three games have ended in 3-1 victories, marking the first time in franchise history the team has scored three or more goals in three straight games. It also marked the first time since the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winning season that San Jose has notched nine or more goals in a three game span.

The Quakes are scoring more because they’re shooting more, having taken 377 shots so far this season, tied for second most by any team in MLS history to this point in a season. July was especially prolific for San Jose, as the club now holds MLS records for most shots taken over a two-game (64), three-game (91), four-game (103), and five-game (128) span.

San Jose has been winning both at and away from Avaya Stadium, but it is its recent home record that is most impressive. The Earthquakes boast of a home unbeaten streak of nine matches dating back to the start of April (8-0-1), and have outscored opponents 23-5 in that span. The Quakes have won big, too, with six wins coming by multiple goals and five results via shutout. A win or tie against the Crew will push their unbeaten streak to double digits, the first time that’s been accomplished since a 16-game streak in 2013 (11-0-5).

The Earthquakes recent run of success has propelled them up the standings, where they now sit at fourth place, level with the LA Galaxy on points but one win behind in the first tiebreaker MLS uses to determine positioning. Their record since the 4-game losing streak in March to open the season is 11-3-4, good for 2.06 points per game over that stretch. Only league leaders and Supporters’ Shield favorites LAFC has been better this season, earning a remarkable 2.23 ppg since opening day.

While the team has been winning on the field, that has not stopped general manager Jesse Fioranelli and head coach Matias Almeyda from bringing in reinforcements. Since the opening of the MLS summer transfer window in July, the Quakes have signed two attacking players, Mexican winger Carlos Fierro and Argentine forward Andres Rios. Both players have played for Almeyda in the past, so they are familiar with his system of play, but the pair also have to earn their way into the line-up given the current one has been so effective.

“Personally, I plan to win a spot on the team,” Rios said this week in his introductory press conference. “I know the team is doing well, but my first short-term goal is to win a spot in the Starting XI with hard work and respect for my teammates. I want to consolidate the team and fulfill the years I have in my contract by making a difference not just in goals but as a model player.”

Fierro has a head start in his drive to make the lineup, having signed earlier in the month. Almeyda has not said when either player is likely to make his Quakes debut, but the Mexican is a candidate to do so against the Crew.

The Earthquakes will hold a moment of silence ahead of Saturday’s game against Columbus to honor the three victims of last Sunday’s mass shooting at the nearby Gilroy Garlic Festival. The club is also holding a silent auction of Quakes memorabilia and game day experiences with all funds raised matched by the Earthquakes organization and donated to the Gilroy Garlic Festival Victims Relief Fund. Fans can view the items and make their bids in the Epicenter fan zone throughout the evening.

Match Information:

When: August 3, 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Where: Avaya Stadium, San Jose
Broadcast: Telemundo 48, KNBR 1050
Live Stream: ESPN+
Earthquakes injury/suspended report: Out: Anibal Godoy (abdomen surgery)

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