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Preview: San Jose Earthquakes at Chivas USA, July 6, 2011

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Hot on the heels of their 1-1 draw on Saturday against the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA welcome the San Jose Earthquakes to Carson, California for a midweek match (Wednesday, 7:30 pm PT, Fox Sports West/Direct Kick/Matchday Live). The Goats' form in recent weeks has been pretty poor, while San Jose seems to be improving over the same span. Chivas can be optimistic that they can beat the Quakes, especially considering they already have this season (2-1 on April 23). Coming into that match, it didn't look like Chivas had much chance, but they managed to get the result and climb up the table for the next month. Of course, they have plummeted since then, but maybe this match will kickstart another month or so of results? Chivas will look to pick up valuable points against San Jose.

Tale of the Tape:

Chivas USA: 18 points (4-7-6); 7th in Western Conference, 13th place overall; Goal difference: -1 (21/22); Last 5 games: W-L-L-L-T

 

San Jose: 21 points (5-5-6); 6th in Western Conference, 9th place overall; Goal difference: 3 (22/19); Last 5 games: W-W-L-T-T

Key Matchup: Chivas defense vs. Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart

On his own, Wondolowski was a feared presence for any defense, but now coming as part of a tandem with Lenhart will create all kinds of problems for opponents. The offense no longer runs straight through Wondo, so the key to stopping their attack is not as simple as stopping him. And as everyone saw during Wondolowski's absence during the Gold Cup, Lenhart is a player that opposing fans love to hate, as he scores, draws fouls, and even draws red cards on backup goalkeepers. It may be annoying having to deal with him, but he is an asset for the Quakes, make no mistake. Meanwhile, Chivas know that they will be tested in this match. Although he hasn't been on the good side of many results lately, Dan Kennedy is a good goalkeeper, and will be counted on to bail out the defense in this match. Hopefully, those opportunities will be limited, and hopefully he will have an actual shot at stopping San Jose chances, as there is only so much one guy can do. Chivas need to return to the game plan that worked in the last meeting between the clubs, and try to control possession and play a high energy game. If they can keep the ball away from San Jose, that should improve their chances at getting a result.

Why Chivas will win this match: They have the confidence of beating San Jose already this season. It was a well-played match for the Goats, and there is no reason why they can't do it again. Chivas have struggled in recent weeks, but the re-dedication to playing well and smart that the club started addressing last week may be sinking in. Chivas showed they could hang with the best clubs earlier this season, and while the Earthquakes are not bad, they are in the middle of the pack. Nick LaBrocca and Marcos Mondaini have been playing great in recent weeks, in spite of the defensive difficulties, and have the class to score and set up teammates on the offensive end.

Why San Jose will win this match: The last time these two clubs met, San Jose was caught taking Chivas a bit lightly, and were going through some struggles about formation and lineups. Those struggles look to have disappeared, and the Quakes are playing pretty well right now, including last weekend's 2-2 draw against New York Red Bulls at Stanford Stadium. They look like they have their confidence back, and are in prime position for a playoff slot. Essentially, they are in the position Chivas want to be in, and coming off the last meeting, San Jose will be looking to avenge the loss.

Why the game will end in a draw: For starters, it is a midweek game, and both teams have games on the weekend as well, so there will likely be rotations made in the squads. Of course, one team may make significantly more changes or the quality of the reserves may outshine the other team's, but both managers will probably toe the line between getting at least a point and making necessary changes. They are also both coming off draws in their previous games, and may feel a point is sufficient for the moment.

Notable absences:

Chivas USA: Jimmy Conrad (concussion), Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela national team), Ante Jazic (calf, questionable), Paulo Nagamura (quad, questionable)

San Jose Earthquakes: Bobby Convey (knee), Ike Opara (foot), Bobby Burling (suspension, 2 yellow cards)