The San Jose Earthquakes have had difficulty scoring goals through the season's first two months. Perhaps a newfound spark can help them break through against a Vancouver Whitecaps defense that has looked vulnerable of late.
San Jose seeks just its second win in the all-time series Saturday night when it visits Vancouver.
The Earthquakes (1-2-3) got off to the worst five-match start in franchise history before finally claiming their first victory last Saturday, beating Chivas 1-0 on Yannick Djalo's goal in the 66th minute. It was the first career MLS goal for Djalo, who is on loan from Portuguese club SL Benefica.
"He's a game-changer," forward Alan Gordon said. "He's someone that we've needed. He gives us a different dimension, and without him we're pretty one dimensional. He gives us that 'X' factor. It's great to have him. I'm excited to watch him get better and better as he gets more fit."
San Jose still has just six goals, tied for fewest in the league. Chris Wondolowski, who has led the team in scoring each of the last four seasons, is scoreless in two straight matches after tallying three goals in his first four.
The Earthquakes are scoreless in their two road tilts this season and are 3-11-6 over their last 20 regular-season matches away from home with just 13 goals. They're also 0-3-1 in four trips to Vancouver, which is 3-1-4 in the all-time series.
However, the Whitecaps (2-2-4) have allowed seven goals during an 0-2-2 stretch after surrendering a total of three during a 2-0-2 start. Second-half subs Nicolas Mezquida and Sebastian Fernandez scored goals in the 86th and 94th minutes, respectively, to help secure a 2-all tie at Real Salt Lake last Saturday.
Vancouver faced a 2-0 deficit within the first nine minutes. Coach Carl Robinson's side also needed a score from Kekuta Manneh in the 86th minute to salvage a 2-all draw with Los Angeles a week earlier.
"I think in the first half on Saturday, we didn't focus on us," Robinson said. "We focused on them and didn't do our job correctly. But I will say that it's easy to play when you're losing the game. They played with no fear in the second half, two nil down, but I want them to play that way when it's nil nil at the start of the game."
It marked the third straight match in which the Whitecaps surrendered the first goal, though defender Andy O'Brien didn't sound quite as concerned as his coach.
"We're a team that's trying to find ourselves still. Each week guys are coming off the bench and giving themselves an opportunity to maybe start the next game," O'Brien told the team's website. "It's just a matter of time and hopefully we might find the continuity and the team might pick itself up in that respect."
San Jose will be looking to shut out a third straight opponent for the first time since posting clean sheets in four consecutive matches May 1-22, 2010.