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Earthquakes-Whitecaps FC Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Off to the best start in franchise history, the San Jose Earthquakes continued their roll with their biggest offensive output in eight years - and the league's leading scorer feels like his team's MLS-best goal total should be even higher.
The way the Vancouver Whitecaps' defense has slowed down opponents lately, though, scoring multiple goals in a team-record sixth consecutive match could be a challenge for the MLS leaders Saturday at BC Place.
Getting two goals apiece from Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart, who had his second consecutive two-goal effort, the Earthquakes (7-1-1) won their third in a row and extended their point streak to seven with a 5-3 victory over D.C. on Wednesday.
It was San Jose's highest-scoring game since a 5-all draw with New York/New Jersey on May 8, 2004.
"I'm a pretty harsh critic of myself and I think that I've left some (goals) out there," Wondolowski told the Earthquakes' official website. "So it reflects on the team, how well they've been playing."
Wondolowski has a league-high 10 goals and has accounted for half of his club's total.
The Earthquakes last earned points in eight straight games during a 4-0-5 run July 12-Sept. 13, 2008. If they can defeat the Whitecaps (4-2-2) for the second time this season, they would have their first four-game winning streak since a team-best six-game run Aug. 20-Sept. 21, 2005.
San Jose will face a Vancouver club that has recorded three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions since back-to-back 3-1 losses to the Earthquakes and Kansas City last month.
The Whitecaps also feel good about their offense after French striker Eric Hassli and Atiba Harris scored their first goals of the season Wednesday, giving Vancouver a 2-0 victory over FC Edmonton in the semifinals of the Amway Canadian Championship.
"I think that will be good for him," coach Martin Rennie said of Hassli, who has no goals in his last 17 MLS matches. " ... I think it can give him a little bit more confidence. Goal scorers thrive in scoring goals."
If that's the case, Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon, a member of the Earthquakes' MLS Cup-winning team in 2001, could be in for another challenging 90 minutes versus San Jose. Wondolowski scored a pair of goals past Cannon on April 7 in that 3-1 win in Santa Clara, with the first score ending the Whitecaps' shutout streak at 427 minutes - a league record to start the season.
Wondolowski has five of San Jose's six goals in the three matches between these clubs.
The Earthquakes' Jon Busch, 1-0-2 in those contests after making five saves last month, has surrendered eight goals in the last five matches after giving up one score in the first four of 2012.
"We have to stay level-headed," Busch told MLS' official website. "... We've got another big challenge ahead of us on Saturday - we've got to go into Vancouver and pick up some points there against a very disciplined and organized team. So there's no time to dwell on this one."
The Whitecaps host the Earthquakes again July 22.
Updated May 4, 2012