If the Colorado Rapids are to have a chance at securing their return to the playoffs Wednesday night, they must find a way to beat the surging San Jose Earthquakes for the first time in two years.
The visiting Rapids hope to snap a six-match winless stretch against an Earthquakes squad that's looking to boost its playoff hopes with a third consecutive league victory.
After missing the postseason last year, Colorado (13-9-9) is tied with fourth-place Los Angeles with 48 points, but owns the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference by having one fewer victory than the Galaxy. Since dropping three in a row from June 15-23, the Rapids are 8-2-4 and have outscored their opponents 8-3 while winning three of four.
"This is the time of the season to start playing like this, to start executing, scoring goals, defending well," captain Drew Moor told the Rapids' official website after he scored in Saturday's 5-1 rout of Seattle.
Colorado can clinch a playoff berth with a victory Wednesday and either a loss or tie by seventh-place Vancouver the same night in Seattle.
The Rapids, however, are 0-4-2 against the Earthquakes (12-11-8) since a 2-1 win at San Jose on Aug. 13, 2011. The teams played to a 1-all draw at Buck Shaw Stadium on May 18 and the Earthquakes won 2-1 at Colorado on June 15.
San Jose is in the midst of a 7-2-2 league stretch and allowed one goal while going 3-0-1 in September but sits sixth in the West, four points behind Colorado and Los Angeles.
After this match, the Earthquakes visit the Galaxy on Oct. 20 before closing with a home game against FC Dallas. They know they likely will need points from all three matches to have a shot at the postseason.
"The team is just getting the job done one game at a time," star forward Chris Wondolowski told the Earthquake's official website after he scored in the 87th minute of a 1-0 victory at Chivas USA on Sept. 29.
"We still have a lot of work to do," he added. "We put ourselves in this position, but I can definitely tell you that we all have faith and believe that we are going to do this and we are going to work every minute to do it."
Wondolowski, who snapped a five-match league scoring drought in the win at Chivas, has seven goals in 15 MLS matches against the Rapids, but none this season.
Colorado rookie Deshorn Brown has not scored against the Earthquakes in 2013, but he recorded two of his team-leading nine goals last weekend against Seattle. Brown's first came 13 seconds into the match for the quickest goal scored in team history.
Fellow rookie Dillon Powers scored in the 10th minute.
"We had a start teams can only dream of," coach Oscar Pareja said. "You can work towards a great start, expect them, but you can only dream the way we started."
Powers' status remains in doubt after he suffered a concussion during the match.
"Dillon is feeling better," Pareja said. "We are following the protocols with the doctors at this point, and waiting for an answer."
Forward Gabriel Torres scored his first goal in five matches with Colorado and added an assist Saturday, but will miss this contest while on international duty with Panama.