Salt Lake are in danger of dropping out of the final series playoff positions, as Freddy Juarez's side are only above Los Angeles FC on goal difference, having won eight, drawn six and lost nine in the MLS.
Only Houston Dynamo have drawn more games this season than San Jose, which is a major factor as to why Matias Almeyda's side have not been able to break into the top seven so far.
The Earthquakes recorded their third draw in five matches last time out when they travelled to face Dallas, who dominated the game at the Toyota Stadium with seven shots on target, but Oswaldo Alanis's penalty goal was enough for the visitors to take a point home with them.
In each of San Jose's last three 1-1 draws, against Portland Timbers, Minnesota United and Dallas, Almeyda's team have taken the lead but have been unable to see out the remainder of those games to secure three points.
Goalkeeper James Marcinkowski has not kept a clean sheet in San Jose's last four fixtures, but the team have also not conceded more than one goal in a single game since July 4, showing some defensive stability.
Real Salt Lake have lost three of their last four Western Conference matches, which has allowed teams below them to catch up in their chase for a playoff position.
Juarez's side's most recent defeat came last time out against LAFC, in a five-goal thriller at the Banc of California Stadium, where the home side went level on points with Salt Lake.
The Earthquakes were always chasing that game as Anderson Julio had to equalise in the second half after Damir Kreilach had levelled the scoreline before the break, but Toni Datkovic's own goal for Los Angeles' third of the game was enough to seal three points for Bob Bradley's team.
That 3-2 result means that Salt Lake's last three fixtures have seen five goals scored, suggesting that the Earthquakes' defence needs to be more resilient, especially after conceding four against Vancouver Whitecaps, who are also chasing Salt Lake for the playoff positions.
These two sides last met on May 8 when Chris Wondolowski scored a brace after 80 minutes had been played to turn the game around for San Jose Earthquakes, who did dominate possession in Utah.
However, for this meeting on Thursday, only Austin FC have a worse record at home than San Jose in the Western Conference, with Almeyda's team only winning three times at PayPal Park, and two of those victories came in the first four games at the end of April and beginning of May.
Earthquakes goalkeeper Matt Bersano is closing in on a return to full fitness but will be absent from the matchday squad this week, and number one Marcinkowski will remain between the posts for the home side.
Centre-back Nathan made his return to the starting lineup last time out after receiving a straight red card against Minnesota, but he did pick up his fifth yellow card in 11 MLS appearances this season against Dallas on Sunday.
Salt Lake made six changes from the side which beat Dallas to the team which started against LAFC, but Juarez could opt for the same back four which helped defeat Dallas and an attacking duo of Kreilach and Julio, who both scored last time out.
The visitors lined up with a back three against LAFC, but they have also played in a back four regularly this season, which is how they are likely to start on Thursday.
San Jose Earthquakes possible starting lineup:
Marcinkowski; Beason, Alanis, Nathan, Abecasis; Yueill, Judson; Espinoza, Lopez, Fierro; Wondolowski
Real Salt Lake possible starting lineup:
Ochoa; Powder, Silva, Glad, Herrera; Everton, Ruiz; Rusnack; Kreilach, Julio, Menendez
We say: San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Real Salt Lake
The Earthquakes' most recent results suggest that there are likely to be goals in this game, but both teams are in similar form in terms of not being able to string together a run of wins.
Their stats in the league are very similar also - winning, drawing and losing the same amount of games, and having scored and conceded a similar amount - suggesting that this game could be evenly matched.
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