Whitecaps FC-Earthquakes Preview

The Associated Press

After a strong start, the Vancouver Whitecaps have cooled off since heading out on the road.

The Whitecaps will try to avoid coming up empty on their three-game stretch away from home Saturday night when they face the San Jose Earthquakes, who are seeking a third consecutive home win.

Road woes are nothing new to Vancouver - it's winless over its last 11 MLS games there dating back to July. The Whitecaps also failed to earn a victory away from home in their inaugural 2011 campaign and have only three in 37 matches (3-25-9) in franchise history.

After opening the season with two wins, Vancouver has extended its road drought with pair of a 2-1 defeats. The Whitecaps (2-2-0) couldn't build on Darren Mattocks' first-half goal in Houston on March 23, and an early own goal helped pave the way for last Saturday's loss at Chivas USA.

"We've consistently been one of the best teams defensively, so we have to get back to that," coach Martin Rennie told the team's website. "It's one of the things we've worked on,­ making sure that everyone's doing exactly the same thing, making sure we're on the same page with that.

"Against San Jose, we need to defend second balls well because they put a lot of balls forward into the box. They've got usually a good physical presence and we'll have to manage that properly."

San Jose (2-2-1) enters this game as one of the lowest scoring teams in the Western Conference with four goals through its first five games. The Earthquakes were shut out for the second time this season last Saturday, 2-0 in Houston, and gave up both goals to the Dynamo in the first 42 minutes.

"It's disappointing to lose the match," coach Frank Yallop said. "I think we didn't start well at all, conceded a very early goal which put us on our heels, and then if we don't concede the second one before half time, we still have a chance to get back in the match. I think the second half display was a lot better than first, but we had some good chances to score and we didn't.''

Yallop's team has done enough to win its past two home games by a combined 3-1 margin. Reigning league MVP Chris Wondolowski, who tied an MLS single-season record by scoring 27 times in 2012, has tallied both his goals this season in the two victories at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Wondolowski also has six of his team's eight all-time goals against Vancouver, and he scored twice in a 3-1 home win on April 7.

That victory is the Earthquakes' only one in five matchups with the Whitecaps, who lead the all-time series 2-1-2 but are 0-1-1 at San Jose.

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