SAN JOSE -- The Earthquakes start an important stretch of three games in eight days Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps hoping to find an offense that has been sorely lacking.

San Jose (1-2-3) has scored only six goals in six games but also has shown hints of life every time Portuguese newcomer Yannick Djalo steps on the field.

Djalo, on loan from S.L. Benfica of Lisbon, isn't quite ready to play a full game.

In the meantime, the Quakes need to start scoring to get in the Western Conference playoff race with fourth-place Colorado playing at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday and first-place FC Dallas coming Saturday.

For now, the attack-minded players feel pressure, and disappointment, for the way the season has started.

The Quakes failed to get a shot on target in a scoreless draw against Colorado two weeks ago. They mustered only three total shots last weekend in a 1-0 win over Chivas USA.

"Until we can start scoring our defense has a lot of pressure to keep the ball out of the net," midfielder Shea Salinas said.

The Whitecaps (2-2-4) will play host to a team boasting two consecutive shutouts.

Salinas, 27, has given the Quakes an assist at a time they need it the most. His accurate crossing passes have led to four assists in six MLS games -- a half dozen assists in eight overall matches this season.

But there is one hurdle Salinas has not cleared in his breakout seventh year: Placating San Jose's strikers.


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"The forward mentality is always, 'I want more,' " Salinas said. "They want the ball a lot ,and they want the ball perfectly every time and I am not doing that."

Quakes forwards Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon let their primary server know how they feel.

"Wondo and Alan want to be on the scoresheet every single game," Salinas said. "I just try to be quiet and work hard."

But the 5-foot-10 Texan also acknowledges the forwards aren't harping about service as much as in the past because Salinas is creating good chances.

The midfielder is on pace to have his best season after a career-high eight assists in 28 games last year.

"Ultimately he is a guy who needs to be wide running at defenders," coach Mark Watson said.

There was a time when all Salinas did was run.

In his first two years while playing for the Earthquakes, Salinas was happy just to beat a defender regardless of how accurate he crossed into the penalty box.

"I thought it was good enough to just put my head down and run as fast as I can," he said.

Now he knows better after spending two seasons in Philadelphia and Vancouver before returning to San Jose in 2012.

"Now I define success a little differently," he said.

It shows as Salinas has become a complete winger who can possess the ball and find goal scorers, as he did Saturday in serving Djalo for the only goal in San Jose's victory.

Salinas' trajectory parallels his career at Furman, where he struggled his first two seasons before becoming a pro prospect.

As Salinas continues to polish his game, he also hopes to add a scoring dimension that has been lacking. Salinas has scored seven MLS goals, never more than two in one season.

He has found himself in good scoring positions "but it is a difficult skill to develop when you are running full speed," he said. "It looks easy, just cut back and there is a wide-open goal."

Putting it away has been much tricker, as all the Earthquakes have learned this year.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.

mls scoring
Bottom 5 scoring teams:
Team GP G SOG
Earthquakes 6 6 22
Toronto FC 6 6 24
L.A. Galaxy 5 7 28
New England 8 7 26
Montreal 8 7 42

Top 5 scoring teams:
Team GP G SOG
Seattle 8 18 48
FC Dallas 8 18 33
New York 9 13 41
Real Salt Lake 8 13 38
Vancouver 8 12 41


SATURDAY'S GAME
Earthquakes (1-2-3) at Vancouver (2-2-4), 4 p.m. CSNCA