Chivas USA must try and restart a stalled campaign tonight when they host the San Jose Earthquakes at the Home Depot Center (7:30 pm PDT, Fox Sports West/KWHY). These teams started the season in a similar position, and at the moment, they couldn't be in more different situations, with Chivas mired near the bottom of the Western Conference and the Quakes leading the Supporter's Shield chase. This will be the teams' final meeting of the year, and they have a draw and a San Jose win in the first two matches. Can Chivas even the season series in this match?
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 28 points (7-12-7), 8th place in the Western Conference, 16th place overall; -20 Goal Difference (21/41); Last five matches: D-L-D-L-L
San Jose Earthquakes: 53 points (16-6-5), 1st place in Western Conference, 1st place overall; 23 Goal Difference (56/33); Last five matches: D-W-L-W-WKey Match-up: Chivas defense vs. all of the Earthquakes
I think it is safe to say we just want to see Chivas get a result of some sort, whether that means a hard-fought draw or preferably a win of any sort. But although the Goats finally got their shooting boots on at about the 22 game mark this season, the key to their collapse of late has been the terrible defensive performances. They need to regroup and refocus if they want to have even a puncher's chance of getting something out of the game, and that effort needs to come first and foremost on the defensive end.
On one hand, the focus needs to be on the forward corps of Chris Wondolowski (18 goals), Alan Gordon (11 goals), and Steven Lenhart (8 goals) who have nearly doubled Chivas' goal output this season just between the three of them. But they also need to stop the rest of the players on the field, who pop up with timely goals of their own. Just ask Ramiro Corrales and Victor Bernardez two weeks ago. On the bright side, Marvin Chavez won't feature as he is injured, but Simon Dawkins should provide another weapon from the midfield, and Chivas need to contain all of the players if they want to play anything like a respectable game.
Why Chivas will win this match: Hey, I haven't been very optimistic lately, and that attitude has been accurate. I have to say, I'm not particularly confident for this match either. But it has to be remembered that in MLS there is truly a chance that any team can win any week, and Chivas showed earlier this season that they too could rise to the occasion and play well from time to time. Add in the fact that Chivas have periodically played well against the Quakes and there has to be some hope. But yeah, this team's played badly lately, so let's just see what happens here. I want to believe, but I need to see a good performance first.
Why San Jose will win this match: Life's good, they practically win at will, they crushed Chivas 4-0 last time out, you know, the usual. The rest of the league is waiting for them to slip up, and they've had a couple of puzzling losses during the season, but they do look like a team of destiny, and can Chivas get in the way of a screaming train of destiny? Of course the Quakes like their chances, and considering Chivas play worse at home, they have to be licking their chops on this match.
Why this match will end in a draw: At this point, a draw would be something like a triumph for Chivas, so they could very well be playing for one the whole game. For the Quakes, they've clinched a playoff spot and so the pressure may be off a little. San Jose coach Frank Yallop may want to tinker with the lineup, rest key players and give reserves a chance to get some game experience before the vital games begin. Plus, they may be feeling invincible against Chivas, especially after the last game. As a result, they may take their collective feet off the gas and give Chivas a window to get a point. It wouldn't be a great result for Chivas, but it would be decent, and that would be a start at this point.
Chivas: Tim Melia (back) (This means Patrick McLain will be on the bench for the first time in league play)
San Jose: Marvin Chavez (hamstring)