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Whitecaps FC-Earthquakes Preview


STATS Senior Writer

(AP) -- The San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps are two of MLS' biggest surprises a month into the season.

When they meet Saturday in San Jose, scoring could be at a premium.

The Earthquakes (3-1-0) have allowed one goal - a penalty kick in a loss to Houston on March 17 - while the Whitecaps (2-0-2) have yet to surrender a score in 360 minutes of play.

The league record for consecutive scoreless minutes to open a season is 421, set by New York in 2007. Vancouver, which played to a scoreless draw with Philadelphia last Saturday, isn't too concerned with that mark.

"I don't think any of us are thinking about a streak," said Joe Cannon, who has 13 saves. "The fact of the matter is, we're going to San Jose, a hostile environment, and we need to try and get a point anyway we can. It's going to happen eventually and we need to find out what we're made of."

Facing the Earthquakes should be a good test for Cannon and the Vancouver defense.

San Jose has five goals with Chris Wondolowski accounting for four scores - one more than the entire Whitecaps team.

The 2010 Golden Boot winner converted a penalty kick midway through the first half in last Saturday's 1-0 win over Seattle, and he had all three goals for San Jose in last season's two draws with Vancouver.

"It will probably be our biggest challenge to date," said Cannon, who was part of San Jose's 2001 MLS Cup-winning team and holds several club records.

Cannon's counterpart, Jon Busch, has been almost as good. He recorded his third shutout last Saturday by making six saves.

"With the boys I have in front of me, nothing surprises me," Busch said. "These guys are tremendous. We have so much depth on this team. These guys work their butts off in front of me, so all the credit goes to them."

Busch only had to make four saves in the Earthquakes' first three games, and he could have another light workload against a Vancouver team that hasn't recorded a shot in its last two.

"I don't think we take enough chances," Whitecaps midfielder John Thorrington told MLS' official website. "We play a more cautious pass rather than a more threatening pass, or try to make an extra pass rather than get a shot on target. Our shot attempts and shots on target aren't anywhere near they should be."

Making matters worse, Vancouver forward Atiba Harris has been suspended for this game for elbowing Union defender Carlos Valdes in the back of the head last weekend.

Despite struggling offensively, the Whitecaps have already earned eight points after finishing with 28 last season - tied with New England for the fewest in the league.

The Earthquakes are also well ahead of last season's pace with nine points. They had 38 a year ago, fifth-fewest in MLS.

"We're not getting carried away," Busch told the Earthquakes' official website. "At the end of the day, this is just game (No.) 4 and we've got to keep moving forward."

Updated April 5, 2012

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