Major League Soccer

Earthquakes face tough road test vs. Dynamo

Two clubs in the thick of the race in the Western Conference square off Saturday night at the BBVA Compass Stadium, as the Houston Dynamo host the San Jose Earthquakes.

Houston (9-7-7, 34 points) is in a four-way tie for second place, three points behind Sporting Kansas City. San Jose (9-9-5, 36 points) is in sixth place, but just five points out of first.

"We are preparing ourselves knowing well that it is a very difficult game," Houston head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. "(They) were very solid and played very well against Sporting Kansas City at their home. Sporting Kansas City could not beat them. That shows that they are a team that comes in good shape and are strong physically and mentally."

Houston appears to have the edge in this match for a couple of reasons.

The Dynamo are 8-0-3 at home this season, while San Jose is just 2-8-1 away from Avaya Stadium.

The Earthquakes also are coming off a grueling midweek match. They played Sporting KC in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, and the match went 120 minutes before SKC won it on penalty kicks.

San Jose rested some front-line players against Sporting, including goalkeeper David Bingham. Defender Victor Bernardez and striker Chris Wondolowski were second-half substitutions.

The Dynamo will be without midfielder Alex Lima, who will serve a one-game suspension for a double-yellow card he picked up in the last match against Real Salt Lake. He leads the Dynamo--and is tied for second in MLS--with seven assists, including three in a match at D.C. United in July.

Houston still has Erick Torres, who is tied for fourth in MLS with 12 goals on the season. He is joined by Mauro Menotas (seven goals) and Alberth Elis (six). The Dynamo have scored in 11 straight home matches, five short of the club record. They've scored 11 set-piece goals, tied for the most in MLS (Toronto) this season.

Wondolowski leads San Jose with nine goals and five assists.

Both teams may see some new faces in the lineup, as Vako (Valeri Qazaishvili) may make his first MLS start after three appearances off the bench for San Jose.

Tomas Martinez, who signed as a designated player by the Dynamo on July 17 from Sporting Braga (Portugal), is looking for his first action in an orange jersey and could see time in place of Alex.

Updated August 11, 2017

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