The Seattle Sounders lead the race for the Supporters' Shield and have their sights set on capturing the club's first MLS Cup, but star Clint Dempsey knows they can't rest on their success as they head down the stretch.
Seattle seeks a third straight victory overall and an eighth consecutive win over host Chivas USA, which has been blanked in six straight matches and will be missing its leading scorer.
The Sounders (15-7-3) hold a two-point edge on Los Angeles atop the Western Conference, with East-leading D.C. also two points back in the Supporters' Shield chase.
They are beginning a busy September that at one point will feature five matches in 16 days, including the U.S. Open Cup final against Philadelphia on Sept. 16.
''It's important to get points and stay up the table and make sure you're going into the playoffs on a good run,'' Dempsey said. ''You don't want to limp in.''
Dempsey scored in a 4-2 win over rival Portland on Aug. 24 and netted his 11th goal of the season in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Colorado. He's two goals from matching the franchise record set by Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson in 2012.
"The most important thing is the three points and getting two wins in a row and try to keep going from there," Dempsey said.
Obafemi Martins has 10 goals in MLS play, scoring one in a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA on April 19. That win was Seattle's seventh in a row against Chivas, and extended a 9-0-4 unbeaten streak in the series that dates to 2009 and includes one U.S. Open Cup victory.
Erick Torres scored in that match for Chivas, but he won't be around for the next three.
Torres, tied for third in MLS with 14 goals, already had been scheduled to miss the next two because of his Mexican national team commitments, but he will have to sit out an extra match upon his return after receiving a red card in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Galaxy.
Chivas (6-13-6) is last in the West and hasn't scored since Leandro Barrera's goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time of a 3-1 win over Vancouver on July 12.
It has gone 0-6-1 since that victory.
"The last touch, the last pass, the last cross is something the guys are feeling that they have to score, so we have to continue fighting because this team is not going to give up. That's for sure," coach Wilmer Cabrera told the club's official website.
Center back Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker each made their Chivas debuts Sunday, and Cabrera believes each will be able to provide a spark moving forward.
"(Reo-Coker is) a leader and a player with experience," Cabrera said. "He had a positive impact. Same with Hurtado, a very good defender who is going to help us a lot."
Chivas is 0-4-2 in its last six home meetings with Seattle.