The San Jose Earthquakes retain hope and confidence despite a three-game losing streak and three key absences as they host the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday (11 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada) with their postseason dreams hanging by a thread.
“I can’t say [that in] the last three games we failed, because we didn’t,” Quakes defender Guram Kashia told MLSsoccer.com via phone ahead of Wednesday's game at Avaya Stadium. “The team gave all their best. The players gave their best. Coaches are fighting for us, too.
“We’re trying, we’re trying our best,” he added. “Yeah, the results were not there – that’s disappointing – but I must say the last two games performances were really, really good, and I have confidence in our team and in our coaches.”
San Jose currently hold the Western Conference’s seventh and final spot in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, but only via the third tiebreaker with the Portland Timbers, who the Quakes must visit on Decision Day presented by AT&T. And given the contrast between a 10-3-2 record at home and their six consecutive losses on the road, that means this week’s matches at Avaya vs. Philly and Seattle are enormously important.
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It doesn’t help that in San Jose’s latest setback, Saturday’s painful last-minute defeat to Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Quakes not only lost the game 3-1, but also Chris Wondolowski, Cristian Espinoza and head coach Matias Almeyda to ejections.
What most would consider a detrimental loss isn’t exactly that to Kashia, who sees the conundrum as the quintessential time for some of San Jose’s bench players to provide cover.
“Matias is a great inspiration for the game, for the players, for us. It will be a disadvantage for us,” the 32-year-old defender said about the team’s key absences. “But also Chris is a big personality and we need him. Espinoza is always so productive.
“But, you know, we have the experience from the three games where Matias was not there, but we have to deal with that,” he added. “We have players on the bench who are really, really hungry and want to prove that they want to play.”
After his first red card in his 16 seasons in the league, Wondolowski – described as the “connection” and the “bridge” by Kashia for his deep bonds with the fanbase – will sing his heart out with San Jose’s supporters groups for 90 minutes:
The Quakes continue to train hard and are “relieved” that the first of three “finals” is being played sooner rather than later. It’s a decisive juncture in the Almeyda era, and all things point to his team being ready for the uphill battle.
“Definitely, it’s the most important,” Guram said when asked if San Jose are heading into the biggest week of their season. “Hard work can pay off. This disadvantage we have with no coach, Espinoza and Wondo, but hard work can pay off.
“And I have hope supporters will be behind us,” he added. “We have to go for it, you know. We worked too hard to fail. It was a great season for us; it showed the great potential we have. We want more. Really, we want to go more for playoffs, and go as far as possible.”