MLS GAME PREVIEW

San Jose versus Columbus preview

May 26, 2009

The San Jose Earthquakes struggled during the franchise's relaunch last year, but one highlight was a road victory over the eventual MLS champions.

Since that match in June, the Earthquakes haven't won on the road, while the Columbus Crew are unbeaten at home.

San Jose comes into Wednesday night's rematch at Crew Stadium struggling once again -- attempting to avoid a fifth straight defeat in league play. Columbus is also looking to shake off a surprisingly sluggish start and will try to benefit from a recent break.

Three years after the original team went on hiatus before becoming the Houston Dynamo, the Earthquakes returned to MLS in 2008. They finished tied for last in the league with an 8-13-9 record.

One of their eight victories was a 2-0 win at Columbus on June 7, but San Jose is 0-8-5 in its last 13 away from home and has dropped its four road games this season, the most recent a 3-1 loss to Houston on Saturday.

The Earthquakes (1-6-2) have a league-low five points, are 0-5-2 in their last seven MLS matches and have been outscored 19-9 for the season.

"The group of players we have and the way we're playing is not getting it done at the moment," coach Frank Yallop told the team's official Web site. "Nobody is playing out of their skin right now, which is what wins you games. They're all kind of doing OK, which in this league is not quite good enough.

"Once we get over the hump, get some wins and start to get some confidence, I think it will be a different group of guys. They're playing hard, but they're not playing with confidence. There's a difference."

The Earthquakes could gain some confidence with another road win over the Crew, who are tied for last in the East a season after defeating New York in the MLS Cup. However, Columbus (1-2-6) is 10-0-5 in its last 15 home games including playoffs and 1-0-3 this season.

The Crew are 1-0-4 in their last five overall, the victory coming at home by a 3-2 score May 9 over Kansas City.

They almost made it consecutive victories May 17 in Los Angeles, but suffered a disappointing draw in familiar style.

The Galaxy scored in stoppage time to forge a 1-1 tie, the fifth time this season the Crew gave up a lead with less than 10 minutes left in regulation. They've blown three leads at home, with each of those matches ending in draws.

Because East leaders Chicago, D.C. United and Toronto have a combined 17 ties, Columbus is only nine points out of first -- compared with San Jose's 19-point deficit in the West.

Forward Alejandro Moreno knows the Crew have an opportunity to make up ground.

"Our attitude remains positive, aided by the fact that none of the teams at the top are running away from us. They're keeping us in it, and we need to take advantage," Moreno told the team's official Web site. "We've had a decent month, and it's important that we close out this month with a win against San Jose."

Columbus' Guillermo Barros Schelotto and San Jose's Ryan Johnson have both scored goals in back-to-back games.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press