Chivas USA set a club record by going undefeated in its first five matches, but it hasn't looked sharp in its last two. While the first of those subpar outings was the club's first loss of the year, the second may have been its most important victory.
After that win, Chivas looks to put together a more complete performance and again improve the best record in MLS on Saturday night when it visits the struggling San Jose Earthquakes.
Chivas (5-1-1) leads the Western Conference, due in large part to its 4-0-1 start. Coach Preki Radosavljevic, though, thinks his club's sloppy 2-0 win over FC Dallas last Saturday was just as significant as its early dominance.
Chivas gave up a season high-tying six shots on goal and didn't score until the 68th minute but still managed to pull out its league-best fifth victory behind goals from Atiba Harris and Alecko Eskandarian.
"It was one of those games that we didn't play well," Radosavljevic said. "I would like to believe that that's a good thing, when a team that didn't play so well still finds a way to win."
That might be a valuable experience for Chivas, which had dropped its previous match 1-0 at Toronto FC, but Radosavljevic would still prefer if his club played up to its capabilities.
"I would like to see us playing better soccer," he said. "I would like to see us playing more fluid, more organized, not giving so many easy things away. (Saturday) I think we gave away way too many easy things."
That wasn't a problem against San Jose (1-3-2) in 2008, the Earthquakes' first season back in MLS after the original franchise moved to Houston and became the Dynamo after the 2005 season. Chivas went 2-0-1 in last season's series and won its only trip to Buck Shaw Stadium 1-0, improving to 1-1-1 all-time in the Bay Area.
The Earthquakes will be happy to return home after a 2-0 loss at Seattle last Saturday, their 11th straight road game without a victory.
"I think we have a decent side this year," coach Frank Yallop told the team's official Web site after his team dropped to 0-2-2 since its lone win March 28 against the Dynamo. "We've just got to kind of get our groove going a little bit.
"I think we've played pretty well in spells, but not a full 90 together. Injuries have disrupted some of what we're trying to do. But in this league, you've just got to get on with it. We didn't come in here trying to defend. We came here trying to win."
To snap their winless streak, the Earthquakes will have to recover quickly from a midweek meeting with the New York Red Bulls. San Jose fell 2-1 in the U.S. Open Cup qualifier Wednesday night.
It'll likely need to play better defense when matched up against Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton on Saturday. Thornton has held opponents to three total goals and posted four shutouts through his first seven matches.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press