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Earthquakes-Chivas USA Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Thanks to Chivas USA losing last weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes became the first team to secure a spot in the MLS playoffs.
Now their focus can turn to claiming the top overall seed.
The Western Conference leaders continue their push for their first Supporters' Shield since 2005 on Saturday night when they visit Chivas for the only time this season.
After falling 4-0 to San Jose (16-6-5) on Sept. 2, Chivas USA (7-12-7) lost 2-1 at Seattle last Saturday.
That defeat clinched the Earthquakes' second postseason berth in three years.
"This was our goal back in January, to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs," coach Frank Yallop told the team's official website. "To do so with seven games remaining is a tremendous accomplishment, but we still have work to do."
San Jose, which leads the second-place Sounders by six points in the West, has work to do on the road. The Earthquakes lead MLS with a franchise-record 56 goals, but they've scored three times during an 0-3-1 slide outside Santa Clara. Four of their final seven games are on the road.
San Jose is 0-3-2 visiting Chivas USA since a 2-1 victory Sept. 17, 2005.
Defender Danny Califf, who scored for the Earthquakes in that contest, is questionable for Chivas after leaving the Seattle match with a hamstring injury.
His potential absence could hurt Chivas' faint playoff hopes. The club had a good chance to pick up points last Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead on Nick LaBrocca's goal, but Chivas surrendered the go-ahead score in the 89th minute.
"There's really no silver lining at the moment," coach Robin Fraser told MLS' official website. "The fact of the matter is we're in a position where we need results. We put ourselves in a good spot to get results and to not get them is very difficult."
Chivas, 0-4-2 since its last victory, is nine points back of Vancouver for the West's fifth and final playoff spot.
Fraser hasn't been pleased with the club's attack - Chivas has scored a league-low 21 goals - but the defense also has struggled with All-Star goalkeeper Dan Kennedy surrendering 20 goals during the winless stretch.
Kennedy will face an Earthquakes club trying to become the 12th in league history to net four goals in three consecutive matches.
San Jose's Chris Wondolowski leads the league with 18 goals but has one over the last seven matches. However, Simon Dawkins and Alan Gordon have increased their output. Four of Dawkins' seven goals have come in the last four games, while Gordon has five in his last six contests.
Gordon leads current Earthquakes with six goals versus Chivas, with the last coming as the equalizer in the 89th minute of a 1-all draw May 13.
Chivas is mired in its longest winless streak since a seven-game skid Aug. 13-Sept. 21, 2011.
Updated September 14, 2012