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Rapids-Earthquakes Preview


STATS Writer

(AP) -- In the midst of a lackluster stretch, the MLS-leading San Jose Earthquakes are surely looking forward to getting back home.

A matchup against a Colorado Rapids squad that struggles on the road could also help them regroup.

San Jose tries to extend its home unbeaten streak to 11 games Saturday night against a Colorado club on the verge of matching the longest single-season road skid in franchise history.

Since putting together a 5-1-1 run, the Earthquakes (14-6-5) have been outscored 7-5 in going 1-2-1 over their last four matches. Despite scoring first on Chris Wondolowski's penalty kick in the 21st minute, San Jose's season-worst road winless streak reached four last Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Montreal.

"All the teams in the league are pretty equal, so it is never easy to win away from home," coach Frank Yallop said. "Montreal played well tonight and took advantage of their chances. We took it on the chin a bit tonight, but we will regroup, and we are looking forward to Colorado at home."

San Jose, which has outscored opponents 27-13 during a 7-0-3 run at Buck Shaw Stadium, has to like its chances of bouncing back against the Rapids (8-15-2). Loser of six in a row on the road, Colorado dropped to 1-7-1 over its last nine games overall after playing to a 1-all draw with Chivas USA last Saturday.

Midfielder Brian Mullan gave the Rapids a 1-0 lead, but they couldn't hold on and allowed the tying goal in the 83rd minute.

"It looked like something I've seen before," coach Oscar Pareja said of his team's tendency to surrender late leads. "We have so many chances to score and then they score at the end.

"This group is not quitting. Despite all of the results and the position in the standings, the guys are not quitting. They're working and fighting for every point. ... But you have to have that killer instinct to put the game away. You have to, because that's what gives you points."

The Rapids experienced a similar result in a 2-1 home loss to the Earthquakes on June 20. Mullan opened the scoring in the 18th minute but San Jose's Hunter Freeman and Wondolowski scored with the match winding down, with Wondolowski's penalty kick coming in the 90th minute.

Colorado knows it's likely to get all it can handle again over the weekend.

"It's a team who's doing well," Mullan told the Rapids' official website. "We dominated them here and the same thing happened again. We have to solve the problems and put our chances in. ... It seems like the story of the season this year."

San Jose, though, will be short-handed with forward Steven Lenhart and defenders Jason Hernandez and Victor Bernardez sidelined. Lenhart and Hernandez were sent off against the Impact while Bernardez was suspended by the league's disciplinary committee for a tackle in the game.

Despite being eligible for Saturday, Hendry Thomas is unlikely to make his Rapids debut. The midfielder spent the last three years with Wigan of the English Premier League before signing Tuesday.

"With the altitude and everything, he's behind a little bit," Pareja said.

The Rapids lost seven straight road games April 11-July 19, 1998. They also dropped their last seven matches as the visiting club in 2000 and opened 0-2-0 on the road in 2001.

Updated August 24, 2012

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