Earthquakes-Rapids Preview

The Associated Press

Goals could be a rare phenomenon when the Colorado Rapids host the San Jose Earthquakes on Thursday night. Both teams have carved out a reputation for being stingy on defense this season.

A defense-first philosophy has worked out much better for Colorado. The Rapids (14-5-12) trail Western Conference leader FC Dallas by just two points following a 3-2 win over Houston on Saturday. Colorado is unbeaten in its last five games and has won two straight contests.

Through 31 games, the Rapids have allowed an MLS-low 29 goals and produced a league-leading 13 shutouts.

Things have been a little less reliable on the offensive side at times. Colorado has just 36 total goals, tied with Chicago for second-fewest goals among MLS teams.

Still, the Rapids are finally starting to find some good form in final month of the regular season. Midfielders Dominique Badji and Shkelzen Gashi have each scored three goals over the last three games. The duo combined for all three Colorado goals against the Dynamo.

Will it be enough to finally break through against San Jose at home? The Earthquakes have pulled out draws in each of their last four trips to Colorado and possess a 14-game undefeated streak against the Rapids overall.

San Jose (8-10-13) needs a victory to avoid officially being eliminated from MLS Cup playoff contention. The Earthquakes snapped a seven-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake last time out, but own just one road victory in 2016.

Much like Colorado, San Jose is tough on defense and inconsistent on offense. The Earthquakes have allowed just 36 goals, but have scored only 31 goals -- the fewest among MLS teams.

Chris Wondolowski is the main scoring threat for San Jose. The veteran forward has a team-high 11 goals and three assists in 27 matches. He is good at creating space in the box, but his teammates have not had as much success in producing scoring chances.

The Earthquakes may need a big performance from goalkeeper David Bingham to give themselves a chance to get three points. Bingham has notched seven shutouts this season and boasts the third-highest save percentage (73 percent) among keepers with 95 or more saves.

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