The San Jose Earthquakes sputtered out of the blocks this season before finding their stride during their current five-match unbeaten streak.
The Earthquakes (6-6-4, 22 points) aim to extend their run of good fortune on Saturday when they square off at home against the rival Los Angeles Galaxy (10-6-1, 31 points) in the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium.
"We want to beat L.A. We want to win," San Jose leading goal scorer Chris Wondolowski said. "It's always a big game; it's a big rivalry game. But, also, we just want to stay above the (playoff) line right now. It's a nice place there, and we don't want to look back anymore."
The Earthquakes have enjoyed the view after improving to 3-0-2 in their past five matches following a 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.
Georgian international Vako tallied twice in the win for San Jose, which is looking for better results against its Golden State adversary after going 0-1-1 against the Galaxy in 2018.
Wondolowski joined the Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11 goals this season) in registering two goals during the clubs' 3-3 draw at Stanford Stadium on June 30, 2018. Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in the first minute and converted a free kick to give the Galaxy a 3-1 lead in the 25th minute before Wondolowski capped the rally on a penalty kick in the 69th minute.
"I remember last year when we were there, it was intense, nice atmosphere," the 37-year-old Ibrahimovic said. "A lot of goals, the fans enjoyed the game, and hopefully this time, same atmosphere, full stadium and a better result for us."
Midfielder Romain Alessandrini scored in that match and in the Galaxy's 1-0 win over San Jose on May 25, 2018, but he is sidelined this year after undergoing knee surgery in April.
While Ibrahimovic was were held in check last Saturday, Favio Alvarez set up fellow midfielder Emmanuel Boateng's goal in the 12th minute before scoring his own three minutes later in the Galaxy's 2-0 win at FC Cincinnati.
"Big game for us," Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said of the matchup at Stanford. "Big stadium and lots of people. So, need to take every day and every moment to get better and try to win, because every time the team goes out, we try to win."
--Field Level Media
Quakes surge into rivalry match vs. Galaxy