LAFC vs. San Jose Earthquakes Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 10/16/21
LAFC vs San Jose
LAFC plays host to the San Jose Earthquakes in a crucial Western Conference matchup as the Major League Soccer seasons winds down to a close. Banc of California Stadium will be the host for one of the league's emerging rivalries, which will be in its third installment of the season come Monday. San Jose came out on top in both of the first two games this year, taking down LAFC 2-0 in September and 2-1 in August, both in San Jose. It's a rivalry that has seen the Earthquakes win four in a row overall dating back to last season, with LAFC's last win over the Earthquakes coming in September of 2020. Only one point separates the two teams in the Western Conference standings, with LAFC sitting on 34 points and San Jose sitting on 33 points. Minnesota is currently the last team in the MLC Cup Playoffs if the season ended today, with 38 points, so this is certainly an intriguing matchup that could go a long way to shape the standings and seedings when things are all said and done.
LAFC pushing towards the playoffs
LAFC has spent most of this season a far cry away from where they've been in years past, which is the top of the Western Conference standings. For whatever reason, a slow start has hurt their ceiling but they still have a great shot at finding themselves in the playoffs when things are all said and done. Through 28 games, they have 34 points but haven't grabbed a win in their last four games. They grabbed a tie the last time out in their rivalry with the LA Galaxy but dropped three games in a row before then, setting themselves up on the outside looking in for the playoffs for now. Returning home should help as well on Saturday but LAFC needs to find a way to snap out of their current spell of losing and start to ride some momentum into the rest of the season. By taking down San Jose they should be able to clear themselves of the Earthquakes by quite a bit with six games left to go.
One issue that continues to hurt LAFC is their inability to stay healthy. At a time when other teams are slowly turning around their injury report back into their favor, LAFC can't see to get out of their own way. While not all starters, the overall lack of depth might finally be catching up with them. They officially have seven players listed as out for the weekend, according to theMLS availability report. Carlos Vela (right quad) is by far the biggest name thatthey'll need to replace. As one of the most creative players in the league, Vela's absence has been felt throughout the LAFC attack in recent weeks. In addition, Mahala Opuku(left knee), Eddie Segura (right knee), Erik Duenas (left knee), Julian Gaines (pelvic stress fracture), Alvaro Quezada (chest), and Tristan Blackmon (left adductor), all remain out. Blackmon has appeared in 17 games with a goal, while Vela has five goals and five assists to lead the way.
Vela being out will hurt but they still have quite a bit in terms of offensive production ready to go for Saturday. Diego Rossi and Cristian Arango are tied for the team lead in goals with six each. Jose Cifuentes has added another five goals and the team's leading assist man, Eduard Atuesta (8 assists), also is ready to go. The offense will continue to take a step back without Vela but there's also plenty of quality from an attacking sense for the group left. Tomas Romero at least appears to be the leader at goalkeeper, but three players total have seen action in the back and the defense continue to be a work in progress. Jordan Harvey provides experience but has a talented but youthful group surrounding him. Given that they've already allowed multiple goals to San Jose twice this season, they'll need to be much sharper to keep the Earthquake attack at bay.
San Jose looks to bounce back
San Jose is in a similar boat as LAFC and even though they've struggled over the last few years, a hot start this season hasn't led to much unfortunately in terms of how things look as the season draws to a close. The Earthquakeshave played 28 games this season and have earned 34 points and have a minus-one goal differential. They sit five points out of the playoff race and know that since they're playing an LAFC team that is ice-cold right now, they can't afford to let any points go to waste. San Jose was shocked the last time out against Vancouver, losing 3-0 on the road. It was their second straight loss, after losing a home game to Seattle prior. Going on the road for the second straight game won't be easy at all for the Earthquakes but they'llat least have some confidence heading into this one, having won four in a row against LAFC.
According to theMLS availability report, San Jose is in better shape than LAFC, as they have only one player out and another three questionable to go. Matt Bersano (hand) is out and Tanner Beason (left thigh), Jeremy Ebobisse (concussion), and Siad Haji (left thigh) are questionable. The good news there is that those four players have only combined for one assist, but Ebobisse has five goals on the year. After coming over from Portland, it's been slow going though and the Earthquakes need to get him moving if they want him to prove impactful on this season.
Javier Lopez is the team's leading scorer with 11 goals and with him in the lineup, the Earthquakes always have a chance to find a win, or at least find the back of the net to score and make things interesting. He has some sidekicks in Cade Cowell (four goals) and Chris Wondolowski (two goals) remains one of the best leads in the league. Cristian Espinoza has added six assists and Cowell another four, meaning the bulk of their creativity is intact and ready t make a difference. Fans can expect the Earthquakes to play an exciting brand on Saturday but it'll be interesting to see if it's enough.
In what promises to be one of the best games of this weekend’s MLS slate, fans can expect the Earthquakes to come out on top and make a statement in their run towards the MLS Playoffs. While LAFC might have been a strong team over the last few years, this year has left quite a bit to be desired. They’ve dropped four straight to the Earthquakes and until they turn that around against their rival, it’s hard to imagine LAFC turning anything around. LAFC is also dealing with a number of injuries and with the Earthquakes only missing one regular for sure, the depth will be a massive advantage as well. Expect San Jose to come away with all three points on the road and continue their domination.
Both of San Jose and LAFC are dealing with injuries in the attacking side of things that will deplete their ability to find the back of the night. Over the last four meetings, the under has been consistent in this rivalry and there’s little to think that things will change this time around. Points are so sacred at this point in the season so both teams will play a conservative style as well, limiting chances over the course of 90 minutes. Expect maybe just a single goal to be the difference as the under reigns supreme yet again in this California showdown.