Earthquakes-Austin FC Preview

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Javier Lopez is hoping to stay in MLS with San Jose Earthquakes, as he aims to propel the Californian team to the MLS playoffs.

Lopez, who is on loan from Liga MX side Guadalajara (also known as Chivas), scored his first career hat-trick in San Jose’ last outing, though it was not enough to stop Matias Almeyda’s team slipping to a 4-3 defeat to Real Salt Lake.

Three games without a win has left San Jose off the pace in the hunt for the playoffs, though a match against the Western Conference’s bottom club Austin FC should present a chance to get back on track.

Lopez would love to stay at San Jose, but insists for now his focus is on getting them into the playoffs.

“I have little time left, I would love if they could buy me,” he said after the RSL match. “I would like to continue here. My contract belongs to Chivas, if I have to return I would be very happy.

“We would have liked to win and things would have been very different. I’m sad because we didn’t win. I only think about the 10 games that remain. I really want to reach the playoffs. I have never had a game as good as today. That does not matter anymore. We will try to change things and focus on Saturday. I want to play and get the three points we need, and that’s where my thoughts are.”

Austin, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from a four-match losing streak.

“We can extrapolate some good things but at the end of the day, we’ve got to find what it is that wins us games,” said defender Nick Lima. “That’s what matters, that’s what gets you up in the table.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin FC – Diego Fagundez

Diego Fagundez scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season in Austin’s defeat to LAFC on Wednesday. Fagundez has scored his six goals in five different months this season, only failing to score in June while scoring twice in August.

San Jose Earthquakes – Javier Lopez

Lopez now has eight goals to his name this season and after his showing against RSL, will be determined to carry on the momentum into the run in.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Austin opened Q2 Stadium with a scoreless draw against the Earthquakes on June 19. San Jose has won only one of its last eight away matches against expansion sides (D3 L4) dating back to 2011, a 1-0 win at Minnesota in April 2017.

– Austin has lost four straight matches for the first time in club history after three previous three-match losing streaks. Austin’s 10 defeats since the start of July are two more than any other MLS team.

– San Jose has lost two of its last three matches (D1) after going 10 straight matches without defeat in July and August (W3 D7).

– The Earthquakes’ 4-3 loss to Real Salt Lake came after not conceding more than one goal in any of their previous 11 league matches.

– San Jose’s defeat to RSL was just the eighth time in MLS history a team has lost when one of its players scored a hat-trick, and the first since Montreal in April 2018, who lost, 5-3, to LAFC despite an Ignacio Piatti hat-trick.

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