Minnesota United and the San Jose Earthquakes head into Saturday night's game in San Jose tied in a tight Western Conference race just three points behind the fourth-place Houston Dynamo and five points behind second-place Los Angeles FC.
The Earthquakes (9-9-8, 35 points) had a chance to move up in the standings on Wednesday in their California Clasico match with rivals LA Galaxy but blew a 2-1 lead in the second half. The visiting Galaxy scored the game-winner on a penalty kick by Dejan Joveljic in the 61st minute.
It was just the second loss in 13 games (7-2-4) at PayPal Park for San Jose, which looks to snap a two-game losing streak.
"We need to have a quick memory," Earthquakes defender Tommy Thompson said. (Wednesday's) performance wasn't what we were hoping for. The good news for us, and what we're excited about, is that we have an opportunity on Saturday night against a team that is right above us in the standings. It's a huge opportunity, and we're going to focus on that."
Minnesota United (9-8-8, 35 points), which has played one fewer game than the Earthquakes, is 3-0-2 in its past five MLS matches and comes in off a 3-0 home victory over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.
Emanuel Reynoso had a brace, and Teemu Pukki scored his second goal since signing a Designated Player contract on June 27 for the Loons. Goalie Dayne St. Clair made five saves for his eighth clean sheet.
It was the sixth multi-goal game of Reynoso's career, tying Kevin Molino for the most in Minnesota United regular-season history. It also tied Reynoso with Darwin Quintero for most career goals (27) for the Loons in the MLS era (since 2017).
"In general, I think it was an incredible game for everyone," Reynoso said. "We have to keep getting better and continue working."
Pukki, who will leave for international duty for Finland afterward, snapped an eight-match (including Leagues Cup) goal drought with his first score in front of the home crowd at Allianz Field.
"Obviously, it's a big thing," Pukki told twincities.com. "Haven't scored (as) many goals as I was wishing for, but it was important to get it out of the way and give me confidence for the next games."
Forward Bongi Hlongwane, who leads the Loons in scoring with six goals and three assists, didn't make the trip and will miss his third straight game with a knee injury, while defender D.J. Taylor is suspended for the contest because of card accumulation.
—Field Level Media