Two teams, one already eliminated from postseason contention and the other on the brink, face off Wednesday night in the Bay Area when the San Jose Earthquakes host Austin FC.
The Earthquakes (8-12-9, 33 points) are in 10th place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference with five games to play. The top seven in the conference make the playoffs, and San Jose is eight points out of seventh place.
Three straight losses, including 3-1 against Los Angeles FC last weekend, have left San Jose where it is. The Earthquakes were outscored 9-2 in the process.
"Once we started to play, we trapped them into their half and started having control of the match," San Jose coach Matias Almeyda told the club website. "This tells us that we need to keep improving. The season is yet to be over, and we have been committing these mistakes throughout the year and last season also. We keep insisting on giving confidence to the players."
Austin FC's inaugural season in MLS is drawing to an end after a few scintillating wins on their home pitch, but a lot of disappointment beyond that.
At 7-18-4 and just 25 points, Austin has long been eliminated from the postseason -- and still has five games to go.
The team is trending upward, however, with two wins in the past four games. Austin drew with San Jose 0-0 at home and lost 4-3 at home in the previous two meetings this season.
In the Earthquakes' win, Austin took a 3-1 lead but lost it all in the second half with three unanswered goals from the visitors.
Last weekend against Minnesota United, Austin FC fell 1-0.
"We'll take the amount of good chances we created and the attacking style of play we wanted from (Saturday) into Wednesday," coach Josh Wolff told the Austin American-Statesman. "The lack of execution cost us. That's something we'll have to get better at. But there's a lot of positives. ... I told our guys to be (angry) and not be disappointed."
--Field Level Media