The host San Jose Earthquakes can solidify their place in the top eight of Major League Soccer's Western Conference with a win Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake, which can move into a playoff position if they get the three points on the road.
It makes for an important late-season match for both teams, with remaining regular-season matches dwindling in number.
The Earthquakes (6-8-6, 24 points) have allowed by far the most goals in the league, 45 in 20 games, while scoring only 29 as a team. Nevertheless, they are in contention for the eight-team Western Conference postseason.
"We are trying to finish this season the best way we can, and there are three matches left," San Jose coach Matias Almeyda said after his team's 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday in Portland, Ore. "We can soon be on vacation or we can keep fighting for more. As long as we have our chance, we will fight until the last minute."
Generating attacks and offense hasn't been the Quakes' biggest problem. Being scored on is, as San Jose has allowed four or more goals in five MLS regular-season games.
Forward Andy Rios is San Jose's goals leader with five.
Real Salt Lake (5-7-7, 22 points) have one win in their past six matches, a victory on the road at third-place Portland two weeks ago.
RSL coach Freddy Juarez was frustrated with a scoreless draw against FC Dallas at home last Saturday but vowed that his team won't quit.
"San Jose is a team that comes swinging every single game that comes to them. San Jose is not an easy team to play," Juarez said. "It's going to be a heck of a game, a tough game, and we have to be ready."
Midfielder Damir Kreilach leads RSL in goals with eight this season.
The overall series between the teams is just about even, as San Jose is 12-11-11 against RSL all-time after a 5-2 Quakes win in the MLS Is Back Tournament in July.
--Field Level Media