Earthquakes-Chivas USA Preview
The San Jose Earthquakes will have to get their attack going if they want to make a serious run at the playoffs in the final month of the season.
Sunday's match at Chivas USA, the league's worst defensive team, seems like a logical place to start.
The Earthquakes (11-11-8) have scored 31 goals in 30 matches, the fewest of any team with a shot at the postseason. They have a minus-10 goal differential, yet they go to Los Angeles four points back from fifth-place Colorado in the Western Conference standings.
The bad news is the Earthquakes have to earn a nearly essential three points on the road, where they're 2-10-3 in league matches. The good news is two of their last three are at home, and they're coming off a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake on Sept. 21.
"It was a big win for sure,'' coach Mark Watson said. "We knew we maybe had to be perfect, and win the rest of our games. I thought the effort and the commitment the players put in was fantastic.''
Forward Steven Lenhart headed in two first-half crosses in a four-minute span to give his team its 10th one-goal win of the season.
The only league win San Jose has by more than a goal was a 2-0 home victory on Aug. 3 against Chivas (6-16-8). It's scored more than twice in a league game just once.
The Earthquakes are 6-2-2 since a season-best three-match winning streak began on July 13 against Seattle. The six wins are tied for third in the league during that time, but they've only managed 11 goals in the 10-match period.
"I think when you're not scoring goals, there are always some questions as to why," Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas told the team's official website. "Is it the service? Is it the runs? What is it? So we've worked a lot lately on quality service."
Chivas, meanwhile, has allowed a league-high 54 goals.
After suffering through a 14-match winless streak, things have leveled out some with a 2-2-2 record in its last six. Chivas is 2-0-1 in its last three home matches but is coming off a 5-1 loss at Houston on Sept. 21.
"I think that after last week's match at Houston, the team is anxious to get back out," goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told the team's official website. "We feel that we have something to prove and the result obviously didn't go the way we wanted it to go. We know that San Jose are getting here looking for a spot in the playoffs, and we're going to do the best we can to intervene."
Forward Erick Torres has injected some life into the Chivas attack with seven goals in 11 starts since arriving on loan from Liga MX's Guadalajara in July. No one else on the roster has more than three goals for the entire season.
Earthquakes leading scorer Chris Wondolowski hasn't scored in his last five starts, but he has three of his team's four goals this year against Chivas.
The Earthquakes have outscored Chivas 11-3 while going 3-0-2 in the series over the past two seasons.