The San Jose Earthquakes are concerned with winning their first Supporters’ Shield in seven seasons.
Chivas USA is trying not to worry about the club’s recent ownership changes.
The Earthquakes will try to extend their unbeaten streak at Buck Shaw Stadium to 15 games Sunday night when Chivas makes its second visit of 2012.
Looking to hold off Seattle and Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the Western Conference, San Jose (15-6-5) is also in a tight race with Kansas City and New York for the league’s point lead.
Hosting struggling Chivas (7-10-7) could help the Earthquakes continue their push for the top spot. With Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins each scoring twice, San Jose defeated Colorado 4-1 last Saturday to improve to 10-0-4 at Buck Shaw Stadium since a 2-1 loss to the Rapids on Aug. 13, 2011.
The Earthquakes, though, needed an 89th-minute goal from Gordon on May 13 to salvage a 1-all home draw with Chivas.
Chivas, 3-1-1 in its last five matches at San Jose, arrives in Santa Clara following a 3-all draw Wednesday at New England. Coach Robin Fraser’s team rallied from an early 3-0 deficit, with newcomer Shalrie Joseph scoring twice and Miller Bolanos netting the equalizer to give Chivas a much-needed point.
The club faces a significant deficit in the West playoff race, and there are plenty of questions about the future after Jorge Vergara and his wife Angelica Fuentes took over full control of the team this week.
A report in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday said general manager Jose Domene had been fired, but Domene disputed that in a tweet and no announcement has been made.
“There’s distractions all the time,” Fraser told the league’s official website. “… Our focus just needs to be on what we have control over as a staff and as players and what we have control over is what we do on the field.”
Chivas, the league’s lowest-scoring team with 20 goals, is hoping to build off its biggest offensive output of the season.
“I think it gives us confidence that we can score goals,” Joseph said. “Now we have to get back to locking it down and being tougher to play against defensively, a hallmark for us in the beginning of the season.”
Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who has yielded 14 goals during the team’s 0-2-2 stretch, will face a San Jose club with an MLS-best 52 goals.
“(Wondolowski, Gordon and Lenhart) have done a wonderful job this season, but as an attacking player, you look at them and say, ‘I want to catch them,’” Dawkins said. “It’s a little competition between us all. It’s healthy. It’s good for the team. And that’s why we’re doing so well right now, because we have that competitive edge about us.”
Lenhart should return following a one-game red-card suspension.