San Jose Earthquakes (12-9-7, 43 points, sixth in the Western Conference) vs. Chivas USA (8-16-4, 28 points, eighth in the Western Conference) at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
All-time record: Chivas lead, 4-2-4
10 p.m. ET; CSN California (local); MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live
The first meeting between Chivas USA and San Jose took place almost six months ago, and the Quakes, in particular, have a totally revamped roster.
When Chivas posted a 3-2 victory at the Home Depot Center on April 24, San Jose didn’t even have key starters Sam Cronin, Khari Stephenson, Tim Ward and Geovanni on the roster. Goalkeeper Jon Busch was still caddying for Joe Cannon.
Chivas, coming in off a 2-1 loss at Seattle over the weekend, would seem to have little to play for as they head into the offseason. Then again, you could have said the same thing when Houston came to Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday, and the Dynamo didn’t exactly roll over against the Quakes; in fact, they dominated the hosts for much of a 1-0 victory.
San Jose Earthquakes
What had been seen as a bit of a throwaway match now takes on added importance in light of the defeat to Houston last weekend. San Jose are on a two-match home losing streak, their first of the season, and the last thing they want is to extend it to three heading into a home playoff contest on Oct. 30.
With 14 goals on the season, forward Chris Wondolowski needs to make up a lot of ground to catch league-leading Edson Buddle of the Galaxy, who has 17 goals with one match to play. Houston did a good job keeping the Quakes’ dark-horse MVP candidate off the books by starving San Jose of offensive opportunities. The Quakes only put one shot – a hopeful 30-yard rip from Wondo – on net in the first 75 minutes.
There could be some shakeups on the back line. Brandon McDonald is returning from a one-game red-card ban, and that might allow coach Frank Yallop to give Jason Hernandez his first non-suspension night off this season. Captain Ramiro Corrales, who played the final 29 minutes against Houston on Saturday, should open at left back for the first time since suffering a sprained knee on Aug. 7.
The Goats will do without forward Alan Gordon, who’s serving the back half of a two-game suspension for violent conduct. But they might get back the services of leading goal-scorer Justin Braun, whose breakout season was paused due to a concussion suffered Oct. 9 against Toronto. Braun practiced fully in Chivas’ session on Monday.
Captain Jonathan Bornstein will marshal the troops defensively, although his mind could be elsewhere, given that he will be leaving Chivas USA and MLS after Saturday’s home finale to join Tigres UANL in Mexico’s Primera División come January.
Jesus Padilla, Chivas’ goal-scorer in the 2-1 loss to Seattle last weekend, now has six on the year and could tie Braun with a couple of similarly strong performances to close out the year.
Heroes & villains
Jorge Flores vs. Quakes' right flank: Chivas USA’s 21-year-old left winger is coming into his own, providing much of the Goats’ most dangerous play against Seattle, including the impetus for their only goal. Flores’ cross found Rodolfo Espinoza on the right wing, after which Espinoza fed Padilla for the second-half injury-time consolation prize.
The interesting question for the Quakes is who will be responsible for marking Flores. Wondolowski, who has been starting at right midfield for the last few weeks, is a grinder defensively. But with Corrales returning at left back, does Yallop flip Ward to the right, or does he leave veteran Chris Leitch in place? Or does he go a different direction altogether and give rookie Steven Beitashour his first start since July 3?
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm”
With Chivas USA in town, Quakes fans can at least expect a definitive result of one form or another. The Goats haven’t had a tie in more than two months, going 4-7-0 since Aug. 14.