Earthquakes-Red Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Red Bulls are looking for answers defensively and have some players battling fatigue.

Their only season meeting with the San Jose Earthquakes could solve one of those issues.

Coach Mike Petke is expected to shuffle the lineup, as the Red Bulls try to conclude a stretch of three games in eight days by capitalizing on a matchup with the offensively challenged Earthquakes on Saturday night.

New York (5-6-8) may be in the fifth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but the team has surrendered 30 goals to rank among the worst defensive sides in the league.

The leaky defense has cost them during a 1-1-2 stretch, as the Red Bulls have allowed eight goals while scoring nine - five by forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.

"It can't keep happening every week," midfielder Tim Cahill told MLS' official website, "because it just means we have to score four goals to win every game (or) two, three just to get a draw."

That was the case again Wednesday, when New York gave up the opening tally in the ninth minute before falling 3-1 at Philadelphia.

Petke felt fatigue was a factor, as his team was coming off a 4-1 win over Columbus four days earlier.

"We could tell in the warmup we were a bit tired," Petke said. "As you saw in the first half, we had three to four guys coming to our center backs real close to collect the ball. It's a sign of a little fatigue."

It could lead to a solution to the back line, as Petke may decide to rest defenders Jamison Olave and Matt Miazga in favor of Armando, who has missed the last two games through suspension.

Facing San Jose (4-8-4) could at least solve New York's defensive woes.

The Earthquakes are at the bottom of the Western Conference, and their 16 goals are the fewest in MLS. They've been outscored 5-1 during a four-game slide - their longest since a five-game skid in 2009 - and are coming off last Friday's 2-1 loss to D.C.

"You can't make a rash decision just because you're on a four-game losing streak," Earthquakes president David Kaval said of making drastic changes. "I think when you start doing that, I think you start making decisions that compromise the success both in the medium- and the long-term, and we're not going to do that."

Chris Wondolowski, the team leader with six goals, scored against United after missing the six previous games due to his involvement with the United States at the World Cup.

The forward has scored in each of his last two meetings with the Red Bulls, converting a penalty kick in injury time to complete a 2-1 comeback victory at home March 10, 2013.