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Andre Shinyashiki insists the Colorado Rapids must treat every game as "make or break" heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
The Rapids visit the in-form San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, with a win possibly enough to take them into second place in the Western Conference.
Colorado is unbeaten in six straight games, though San Jose have not lost in MLS in 10 consecutive matches.
Forward Shinyashiki is anticipating a thorough test, but believes the Rapids cannot afford a slip up as they bid to finish top of the standings heading into the playoffs.
"They are a team like no other, the way they man mark and the way they play, it presents a challenge that's very different from other teams," he said."The physicality is one of the things they thrive on the most. We need to match that and I think if we do that, we let our football take over.
"Our mentality needs to be that we need to win every game. We're in a good position in the standings and right now is a crucial moment that is going to make or break us. This is a must win game."
San Jose beat the LA Galaxy 2-1 last time out, with Jeremy Ebobisse scoring his first goal for the club since his switch from the Portland Timbers.
"It's very exciting," Ebobisse said after the match. "Obviously I've been brought here in to add my quality to the group, to an already strong group, which is what I learned even more so from the first minute I got in — from the first guy to the last guy who's not dressing. It's a group that's unified and working toward the same goal and everyone is ready to step up."
San Jose Earthquakes – Jeremy Ebobisse
Ebobisse's best goal scoring season in MLS came in 2019, when he netted 11 times. He scored nine goals last year and had netted four for Portland before his move to San Jose, so the 24-year-old will be eager to keep up his run after opening his account in his fourth appearance for the 'Quakes.
Colorado Rapids – Jonathan Lewis
Lewis trebled his tally for the season with two goals throughout August, including the opener against Sporting Kansas City last time out. He scored five goals in each of his first two seasons with Colorado.
- Colorado has won just one of its last 18 visits to San Jose in MLS play (D8 L9) dating back to 2004, a 2-1 victory in August 2011. San Jose has won six of its 10 home matches against the Rapids since (D4), holding the Rapids to just four goals in that span.
- The Earthquakes are unbeaten in ten straight matches (W3 D7), the third-longest unbeaten run in the club's regular-season history and the longest since July-October 2005, when they avoided defeat in a club-record 14 straight games.
- The Rapids' 1-1 draw with Kansas City on Saturday took them to 38 points on the season, tied for their second-best 20-game start in club history. Colorado also had 38 points at this stage in 2016, while they had 39 points after 20 matches in the 1999 season.
- Two of the three goals San Jose has scored over its last two matches have been own goals, including the winning goal against the Galaxy in its last match. The Earthquakes have benefited from three own goals this season, tied with Columbus for most in MLS in 2021.
- The Rapids have allowed an MLS-low six second-half goals this season, three fewer than any other team (Nashville – 9). Colorado conceded three times after halftime against Austin in its second match of the season, but has allowed just three second-half goals in its last 18 matches.
Updated September 3, 2021