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Preview: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chivas USA, August 3, 2013

Can the Goats avenge those horrible losses late last season? Or do the Quakes still have Chivas' number?


Chivas USA couldn't get the road win last week, but they get another chance to grab an elusive three points up at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday when they face the San Jose Earthquakes (7 pm PT, Univision Deportes/MLS Live/This game will also briefly feature on NBC Sports Network's "MLS Breakaway" until 7:30 pm PT). The Goats are coming off a 2-1 road loss to the Seattle Sounders, while the Quakes nabbed an impressive 2-1 home win over the Portland Timbers last week. In fact, San Jose's on their first winning streak of the entire season, so they probably feel pretty good right now. How about the Goats? Can they bounce back from their last collapse?

We'll find out soon. If you missed it, check out the Three Questions feature from earlier today.

Let's preview the match in the meantime:

Tale of the Tape:

Chivas USA: 17 points (4-12-5), 9th place in Western Conference, 17th place overall; Goal Difference: -18 (19/37); Last five matches: L-W-L-D-D

San Jose Earthquakes: 27 points (7-9-6) 8th place in Western Conference, 14th place overall; Goal Difference: -10 (23/33); Last five matches: W-W-L-L-W

Key match-up: Chivas defense vs. San Jose's attack

The good news: Alan Gordon is suspended, so he won't be able to bury Chivas like he so often seems to do, and winger Marvin Chavez is also suspended for this game. The bad news is that not only is Chris Wondolowski back, but he had a productive month with the USMNT, where he won the Gold Cup and broke his national team scoring duck in a big way. From what I read this week, I think there's a slight chance he might not start, but I'm assuming he'll be right back in the lineup. In addition, Steven Lenhart scored in his last game, and while he's been much more productive at rearranging opponents' faces (as he did with Mario de Luna in May) than scoring, he could be on the start of a tear.

That, coupled with Chivas' defensive mistakes against Seattle last week, means the boring-yet-important side of the ball is key yet again. Chivas are still pretty frail with their full back situation, although I think Carlos Borja is substantially better than Marky Delgado at right back. Left back is all makeshift at this point, with Walter Vilchez gone and Gabe Farfan being slotted into defensive midfield nowadays. de Luna and Carlos Bocanegra have only played two games together in the middle, but they'll have their hands full of physical players in this one, so they'll need to be on the same page. Additionally, if Chivas can hold onto possession for decent spells and not just give the ball to their opponents for 10 minutes at a time, that should help their defense, but if they can't manage that, it's going to be really hard. This will be a physical match, and will likely be ugly, make no mistake. But if Chivas can defend properly, they'll have a solid shot in this game.

Why Chivas will win this match: Chivas played San Jose to a draw last time out. Both teams have changed coaches and changed their rosters quite a bit since that game, meaning it is tough to use past performances to really gauge how this will go. Even with the upheaval in San Jose, I'd still say that the Quakes have the talent edge in this game, but there's one factor that could really play in Chivas' advantage. San Jose begins CONCACAF Champions League play midweek, and they want to really make a push in that competition, in part because the MLS regular season has gone so poorly for them. So there's a solid chance some of the key players will be rested, and/or the team's collective mindset will be looking ahead to the CCL game. Since focus hasn't been a mainstay for them all season, if Chivas can play a smart and well-executed game plan, then they certainly have a solid shot of grabbing a road win.

Why San Jose will win this match: Despite the upheaval, and the distractions that come with multiple competitions, the Earthquakes are still heavily favored in this match. In particular, few teams in the league play with as rugged an attack as the Quakes, something that may provide a relief to Chivas' defense in that speed is not the main characteristic, but they may not be equipped to handle the full physicality. Plus, while Chivas' defense has improved considerably, I still think it's pretty easy to beat them on the flanks, and if Shea Salinas or their fullbacks come bombing up the sides, it could be a long night for the Goats. Perhaps above all, this is a familiar position to Chivas' opponents in recent years - not beating the Goats, considered an easy three points, is a huge disappointment. San Jose has all the pressure in this one, and if they play another flat game, it will be a big problem for them.

Why this match will end in a draw: What are the odds we'll see a red card in this game? I'd say they are pretty high, and I'd say it's pretty likely. Now, a red card could lead to one team falling apart, but even if there isn't an ejection, this is going to be a cagey match that will probably often be pretty ugly. It's not going to be a classic, in my view, though if the Goats get a result, it will be successful. With both teams still trying to find their rhythm on-field at this late point in the season, a draw could very well be in the cards.

Notable absences:

Chivas USA: Daniel Antunez (knee), Tim Melia (back), Bobby Burling (concussion), Caleb Calvert (foot), Jose Correa (quad), Oswaldo Minda (hamstring), Gabriel Farfan (quad - listed as questionable), Julio Morales (hamstring - listed as questionable), Steve Purdy (finger - listed as questionable)

San Jose: Alan Gordon (suspended - yellow cards), Marvin Chavez (suspended - red card), Mike Fucito (ankle), Nana Attakora (concussion), Walter Martinez (hamstring - listed as doubtful)