Luchi Gonzalez has urged San Jose Earthquakes to turn PayPal Park into a fortress, starting against FC Cincinnati in the MLS on Saturday.

San Jose sit bottom of the Western Conference, three points adrift of FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City after winning just three games this season.

The ‘Quakes are winless in their last four matches, but Gonzalez is confident the mid-season break served his team’s preparation for Cincinnati well.

"The guys had some time off to kind of recharge and miss each other, miss training, miss the competition," Gonzalez said. "They're showing hunger, they're showing intensity and excitement as we approach Cincinnati.

"It's about getting the stadium back to being our fortress. Making teams miserable here and our intensity and our urgency to push the game. We know Cincinnati defend very well. They can hurt you with some individual talent."

Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s seven-game winning streak was ended by defeat to Nashville SC last time out.

They sit second in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind leaders Inter Miami, having played two games less, but head coach Pat Noonan does not want them to pay any attention to the standings.

"I don't want our group to focus at all on where they are in the standings," said Noonan. I don't think it's indicative of the quality they have and the challenges that we'll face so that part’s important.

"The second you think you have any type of advantage because of the position in the standings, or your opponents’ position, you step on the field and understand pretty quickly that's a poor approach."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

San Jose – Amahl Pellegrino

Pellegrino scored his team-leading fifth goal in San Jose’s last match on May 31. He’s scored four of the Earthquakes’ last nine MLS goals dating back to early May.

Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

Acosta has recorded at least one goal contribution in each of his last five away matches (three goals, four assists), the longest streak in club history. Only Cristian Arango (11) has more goal contributions in road matches than Acosta (10 – four goals, six assists) this season.

MATCH PREDICTION: FC CINCINNATI WIN

Each team recorded a home win over the other in the first two meetings between San Jose and FC Cincinnati. Cincinnati won the last meeting, 6-0, in 2022, the largest margin of victory in team history and tied for San Jose’s largest-ever defeat.

Cincinnati has lost only one of its last 14 MLS away matches (incl. playoffs) dating back to last August (W9 D4) including winning the last four in a row. The only team in MLS history to lose just once in a span of 15 road games (incl. playoffs) was LA Galaxy in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, San Jose has just 11 points from 16 matches this season, equaling their worst total at this stage of a season in club history (also in 2018). The ‘Quakes have never hit the halfway point of a 34-match season with fewer than 12 points.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

San Jose – 21.6%

Draw – 21.8%

Cincinnati – 56.6%