SAN JOSE -- The Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders could throw a pity party Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Or hang "Help Wanted" signs outside their respective locker rooms.
Injuries and national team call-ups have taken a toll on the Western Conference rivals, sapping the star power out of a Major League Soccer game once considered an early season showdown.
"We've got on with it for the first three games," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said of playing without five injured regulars. "I'm real proud the way we started the season."
After losing 2-0 to Real Salt Lake in the season opener, the Quakes have rebounded to post a 1-1-1 record.
Seattle (0-1-1) struggled even before losing forwards Eddie Johnson (United States) and Obafemi Martins (Nigeria), and midfielder Mario Martinez (Honduras) for World Cup qualifiers.
The injury bug hit the Sounders as hard as the Earthquakes with midfielders Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph (calf strains) and Patrick Ianni (foot fracture) out. The team also cut ties this week with Swedish international defender Adam Johansson (knee sprain).
The Earthquakes' backline was decimated when Victor Bernardez (Honduras) and Justin Morrow (United States) joined their national teams for World Cup qualification.
Yallop probably will ask Canadian international Nana Attakora to replace Bernardez at center back. Yallop blocked Attakora's call up to the national team for two exhibition games in
The coach also can move Ramiro Corrales to left back for Morrow and then pick among Sam Garza, Cordell Cato and newcomer Walter Martinez to start at left wing.
"We have faith in all the guys on the squad," star Chris Wondolowski said. "We've gotten points. We feel it could be worse."
It got worse this week when forward Mike Fucito remained sidelined after suffering a gash to his foot during the New York Red Bulls game two weeks ago. He remained questionable for Saturday.
Yallop expects striker Alan Gordon (foot surgery) to begin practicing next week. Fellow forward Steven Lenhart (knee surgery) started running this week. Neither target man will see action any time soon.
But striker Marcus Tracy (ankle) is close to training full time, Yallop said. Tracy, acquired in September, has yet to play for the Quakes and won't be rushed into the lineup.
Neither will Martinez, who joined the club last week. Yallop said the Honduran forward might play against Seattle.
"It is really hard to fit into a team when you're not really sure what the coach and the rest of the team demands," Yallop said. "To just throw him in and expect him to know that" isn't fair.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.
Seattle (0-1-1) at Earthquakes (1-1-1), 7:30 p.m., CSNCA