Interim San Jose Earthquakes coach Alex Covelo suggested the midweek U.S. Open Cup win over the Seattle Sounders was crucial for his side ahead of its trip to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

And Covelo also deflected praise onto his players following a fine run of form.

The Quakes have lost only one of their past six games in all competitions after edging past newly crowned CONCACAF champions Seattle on penalties. There is little time to enjoy that victory, with Vancouver up next on Saturday, but Covelo believes that made the result especially important.

“I feel good, (but) the guys won,” Covelo replied when asked how he felt after a fourth win in five matches. “We tried to help them as much as we can, but at the end they are playing. I feel very good, obviously. All the coaches, when the guys are winning, they feel joy, so we feel good.

“(Seattle) was an important game. You play Wednesday and then you have to go to Vancouver. Sometimes the performance and the result are not the in the same path, but it’s important to win to face Vancouver with that state of mind.”

The Whitecaps also had a cup game in the week, beating Valour FC in the Canadian Championship, but Vanni Sartini did not have quite such a positive outlook.

“I think the first half was a quality first half,” he said. “We showed that we are the higher league team and I was very happy. I think that we relaxed too much in the second half. I wanted to see more hunger from the players to close the game.

“2-0 is always an open game, because anything can happen. I think we relaxed too much and I wasn’t happy with the performance in the second half. It wasn’t the intensity that we needed, but we took care of business in the first half.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vancouver Whitecaps – Cody Cropper

Thomas Hasal has started the season in the Vancouver goal, but his injury presents an opportunity to Cropper. A steady deputy, Cropper was scarcely worked by Valour but should expect to be busier on Saturday.

San Jose Earthquakes – Cade Cowell

Teenager Cowell has not yet built on his promising 2021 season, struggling to hold down a regular starting spot at the moment. But he has scored in consecutive cup matches and will hope to finally hit form in the league.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Whitecaps have lost only two of their 14 matches against San Jose in Vancouver (W9 D3, including playoffs), including a 3-0 victory last October. Vancouver is unbeaten in four straight matches against San Jose overall (W2 D2) after losing each of the previous four.

– Tosaint Ricketts’ 90th-minute winner on Sunday gave Vancouver its ninth win in 13 home matches since returning to BC Place last August (D2 L2). The only visiting team to win at Vancouver in that time was Portland, which has won both of its visits.

– San Jose’s 1-0 win over Colorado on Saturday ended a run of 13 consecutive matches without a clean sheet. The Earthquakes last shut opponents out in consecutive matches in October 2020.

– Ricketts became the seventh different player to score one of Vancouver’s seven goals this season with his winner on Sunday. Vancouver is the only MLS team without a multi-goal scorer this season.

– San Jose held Colorado to an expected goals value of 0.76 in its 1-0 win on Saturday, ending a run of 12 straight matches in which its opponents recorded an xG value of at least 1.00. Prior to Saturday, the last time San Jose held a team under 1.00 xG was against Vancouver on October 23, 2021 (0.73).