Two teams on the outside of playoff eligibility in the Western Conference meet Saturday night when the San Jose Earthquakes play host to Los Angeles FC.
LAFC (9-10-6, 33 points) is one point out of the seventh and final playoff spot in the conference going into this weekend's action.
LAFC was unbeaten in four consecutive games and had a three-game winning streak until a road loss to the Portland Timbers last Sunday. Difference-makers Eduard Atuesta and Carlos Vela are questionable to play at San Jose due to injuries.
In an up-and-down season in which LAFC has fallen short of expectations, a new go-to player has emerged. Striker Cristian Arango, who made his LAFC debut on Aug. 8 at San Jose, has scored six goals and has at least one in each of the team's last five games.
Defender Sebastien Ibeagha said every game for LAFC down the stretch is crucial.
"It's getting that momentum going into the playoffs," Ibeagha said. "If we go in on a good streak, anything can happen in the playoffs."
San Jose is four points off the playoff line in the conference. The Earthquakes (7-9-9, 30 points) have won once in their last four games, a wild comeback from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 win last Saturday over Austin FC on the road.
Javier "Chofis" Lopez scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 63rd minute, and is the league's reigning player of the week.
Lopez has five goals in his last two games and leads San Jose with 10 goals on the season.
"I think people are only talking about those two games, and what I want them to realize is it isn't just two games," Lopez said. "I've been having some good games prior to these last two matches. With all the work I've been doing, it's like a small gift for me."
--Field Level Media