Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser is refusing to underestimate San Jose Earthquakes, insisting that his side will have to be at their best to pick up the victory on Saturday.
The Quakes are winless in eight matches ahead of their trip to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, losing all but two of those, and find themselves 11th in the Western Conference.
Colorado have lost just two of their last nine games, by comparison, and are nine points better off than their opponents, but Fraser expects a tough test on Saturday.
"I certainly expect this to be another very difficult game," he said. "San Jose is a team that's difficult to play against and they disrupt the way teams play quite a bit.
"They have a number of very talented players, especially up front. We know that we need to be at our best, for sure."
Both sides have had a short break following their most recent matches - a 2-0 win over Minnesota United for the Rapids and a 2-2 draw against the same side for the Quakes.
The visitors were beaten 5-0 on their last trip to Colorado and Quakes coach Matias Almeyda will be eager to avoid another thrashing on this latest visit.
"I think they are one of the teams that play the best," Almeyda said. "They are fast and dynamic. They play man-to-man in the back.
"I was criticised for using man-to-man tactics and they are playing that way often. They are not far from when we played our best using that scheme.
"Our experience in Colorado includes conceding five goals. We need to be at the same level as the opponent."
Colorado Rapids - Braian Galvan
Argentine winger Galvan marked his first start of the season for the Rapids with a beautiful, left-footed strike off the far post just before half-time against Minnesota United.
He was used at left wing-back in that game and may have done enough to earn another start this weekend against a San Jose side with the joint-leakiest defence in the division.
San Jose Earthquakes - Andres Rios
Marcos Lopez is back involved for the Quakes after representing Peru at the Copa America, but Jackson Yueill is on Gold Cup duty with the United States.
Almeyda admits he "does not have another Jackson" in his ranks, though Yueill's absence may open a spot for Rios to shine. He has yet to score or assist in 12 games this term.
- Colorado have won five straight home matches against San Jose, including a 5-0 victory in the last meeting in Commerce City in September 2020. The Rapids have won six straight home matches against a single opponent twice, doing so against Vancouver from 2013 to 2016 and D.C. United from 2004 to 2009.
- The Rapids' 2-0 win over Minnesota United in their last match was the sixth win in the first 11 matches this season for Colorado. The Rapids had at least six wins at this stage of a season just once since 2011, winning seven of the first 11 games of the 2016 campaign.
- San Jose have collected just two points from their last eight matches, though they did manage a draw in Minnesota in their last match. The last three games in which the Earthquakes avoided defeat have come on the road (a win at Real Salt Lake, a draw at Austin FC, a draw at Minnesota United).
- Colorado have used an MLS-low 20 players this season, including a league-low 13 starters. Six players have started every game for the Rapids in the 2021 campaign.
- San Jose have scored four goals from outside the box this season, tied for second-most in MLS (Columbus Crew have five). Javier Lopez has scored two of those, one of four players with multiple goals from outside the box this season.
Updated July 16, 2021