SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose juggernaut continued to steamroll the competition on Sunday evening, as the Earthquakes thumped Chivas USA, 4-0, and retook lone possession of the top spot in the MLS Supporters' Shield standings.
MLS’ best attack showed its teeth early and often in front of a loud packed house at Buck Shaw Stadium, but they did it in a different way this time. Three direct free kicks, one from Victor Bernardez and two from Ramiro Corrales, did the majority of the damage against a clearly overmatched Chivas USA.
The Quakes, who also got a goal from Simon Dawkins, now boast a league-high and club record 56 goals on the season. They have won three of their last four, and are seven points clear at the top of the Western Conference.
Chivas USA, who were in the playoff conversation just a month ago, have failed to win in five games straight and appear to be slowly fading from the postseason picture.
But the Goats did start brightly on the attacking side, creating several half chances through Tristan Bowen, and they would eventually outshoot the home side 18-14. But the Quakes’ superiority shone through where it counted.
In the 11th minute, Bernardez slammed an audacious free kick from 35 yards around the wall and into the lower left corner. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy got a hand to it, but failed to get enough wood on it to push it wide.
Three minutes later, a controversial moment denied the Goats a potential equalizer and maybe more. A blind backpass from San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales allowed Chivas’ Juan Agudelo to sneak in on a breakaway. Goalkeeper John Busch came out of his area to cut down the angle and Agudelo slammed his shot into him. Replays indicated that Busch saved the ball with his arm and should’ve been whistled for a foul and possibly a red card.
But referee Mark Geiger did not blow his whistle and the game played on.
In the 16th minute, MLS Golden Boot leader Chris Wondolowski struck the crossbar with a header off a cross from Steven Beitashour.
The Quakes doubled their lead in the 39th minute. Raushawn McKenzie was caught in possession in his own half. San Jose’s Marvin Chavez picked up the loose ball, fed Wondolowski, and slotted a pass into Dawkins as he angled into the box. The Tottenham Hotspur loanee took one touch and buried his shot past helpless Kennedy.
Emotions flared just before the break after a collision between Alan Gordon and McKenzie sparked a reactionary challenge from Chivas USA’s Oswaldo Minda. Gordon and Minda went chest to chest before referee Mark Geiger broke it up.
After the break, the Quakes attack continued relentlessly. In the 68th minute, Dawkins saw his low, hard shot from the top of the area reflexively saved by Kennedy after a lightening quick counterattack down the left side.
A minute later, San Jose sub Steven Lenhart had a goal called back on a corner kick after Ike Opara was whistled for a foul in the box.
The whistle couldn’t save the Goats in the 71st minute, when Corrales dipped a left-footed free kick over the wall and into the lower right corner.
And 10 minutes later, Corrales did it again, bending a shot from 25 yards into the left side of the goal to complete the rout.
Chivas USA will get a week off before traveling to Seattle next Saturday, Sept. 8. The West-leading Earthquakes, meanwhile, will enjoy a two-week break thanks to the international date before squaring off against the Goats at the Home Depot Center on Saturday, Sept. 15.