Real Salt Lake-Earthquakes Preview

The Associated Press

Real Salt Lake has a firm grip on a Western Conference playoff spot and sits just three points out of first place, making its rare defeat last week more of a lesson than anything.

RSL looks to get back on track Saturday night as it visits the San Jose Earthquakes, who try to end a four-game winless stretch.

Salt Lake (11-5-9) had its three-game winning streak snapped with last Friday's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas. It is tied with Dallas for third in the West and is three points behind first-place Seattle, which has a game in hand.

"I just don't think we were exceptional in anything," coach Jeff Cassar said. "We just weren't good enough."

Olmes Garcia scored in the 91st minute for Real, which didn't seem too concerned about also seeing a six-game unbeaten run end.

"Nobody's panicking in here at all," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.

Salt Lake could get a boost from international signee Sebastian Jaime, who practiced for the first time Monday and has a chance to make his debut in this contest. The Argentine forward is known as an explosive scorer who certainly could help RSL, which is still missing Alvaro Saborio after he broke his left foot in May.

"It's really up to how he progresses with the group and understanding the way we want him to play on both sides of the ball," Cassar said regarding Jaime's chances of playing Saturday. "I anticipate him traveling to San Jose with us. So the opportunity will be there."

Jaime may find ample scoring chances against an Earthquakes club that has yielded 12 goals during a 0-2-2 stretch after falling 4-2 to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Sam Cronin and Chris Wondolowski scored for San Jose (6-10-7), which sits nine points behind Vancouver for the West's fifth and final playoff spot. Its last three matches came within a span of nine days.

"That's not an excuse, because everyone has to travel in this league," coach Mark Watson said. "Our guys fought through it, had a great response, then just fell asleep."

The Earthquakes are running out of opportunities to make a push for the postseason and after Saturday's game, they'll play four of their next five on the road.

"We've got a tired, frustrated group right now," Watson said. "We just seem to not be doing the little things to win games."

Wondolowski's goal was his 10th of the season, making him the third player in MLS history with five consecutive seasons with double-digit goals. He scored San Jose's first goal of 2014 in the sixth minute of the season opener against Real Salt Lake on March 15.

RSL responded to take a two-goal lead before Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez scored his second goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure a 3-all draw.