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Match Preview: Toronto FC Face Difficult Trip to Fortress-Like Avaya Stadium to Face Earthquakes

San Jose has proven to be very difficult to beat at home this year, despite their recent struggles.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight game, Toronto FC will face a team who desperately need a win today when they visit Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The San Jose Earthquakes came out of the gate hot to start the 2016 MLS season, but have struggled recently to keep up with the rest of the Western Conference.

The Earthquakes have not won in their last seven MLS matches, and last eight in all competitions after a 2-0 loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup. This run of form has caused them to slip to eighth place in the Western Conference, where they are currently six points out of the playoffs.

A big reason for this recent slump is the fact that goals have dried up for the Earthquakes. They have been shutout four times in their last seven matches, and scored more than one goal just once in that stretch.

Chris Wondolowski remains the danger man for San Jose, and has seven goals this season, but he isn't getting much help. Nobody else on the team has more than three goals, and collectively they have only scored 19 this year. Ex-Toronto FC pair Quincy Amarikwa and Chad Barrett have scored 1 and 2 goals respectively.

But Toronto FC still needs to be wary of the Earthquakes today, especially considering where the match is played. While San Jose has yet to win away from home, they have been a difficult opponent at the newly renovated Avaya Stadium. They have only lost once at home all season, and all five of their wins came in home games.

Avaya Stadium, built in 2015 as a soccer-specific stadium for the Earthquakes, will play host to this year's MLS All-Star game. In that game, the MLS All-Stars will face English Premier League side Arsenal.

For Toronto FC, they will be hoping for the boost of having some fresh legs thrown into the lineup for their second road game of the week. Sebastian Giovinco is expected to make his return to the lineup, likely the starting lineup, after being rested against the Columbus Crew.

Toronto FC will be hoping that the rest refreshes Giovinco, who hasn't scored in the last seven league matches. He fired 13 shots in his last match, last Saturday against Chicago Fire, but still could not find the back of the net.

All eyes will be on Jozy Altidore, however, as the American is expected to at least make the gameday 18 for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in May. How many minutes Altidore gets, if he sees the field at all, remains to be seen. But he will be a welcome addition to Toronto FC's goal-starved attack.

Projected Starting XI: