SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Erick Torres’ 11th goal of the year was the difference Wednesday night as Chivas USA edged out the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0.
The Goats' win, coupled with their 1-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake last Saturday gives them back-to-back victories for the first time this season, and sees them leapfrog San Jose in the Western Conference standings. For San Jose – now last in the West – it was their third straight 1-0 loss in MLS competition, and stretches their scoreless string to 315 minutes.
Both teams were not at full strength, still missing players returning from World Cup duty. Oswaldo Minda (Ecuador) started in midfield for Chivas USA, but Marvin Chavez (Honduras) did not dress for the match. For San Jose, Victor Bernardez (Honduras) came off the bench for the game’s final quarter hour, but Chris Wondolowski (USA) was still making his way back from Brazil after the USA's 2-1 loss to Belgium on Tuesday.
Both goalkeepers were tested in the scoreless first half; the Goats’ Dan Kennedy smothered a Khari Stephenson strike, then later tipped a Steven Lenhart header over the crossbar. Seconds before the halftime whistle, Torres sent Mauro Rosales in on goal, only for the Argentine to be denied from close range by the Earthquakes’ Jon Busch.
A minute after intermission Busch again came up big, punching away Torres’ open shot from outside the area, but the next time Torres had a chance he made no mistake.
In the 53rd minute, Rosales’ cross from the right side fell to him at the far post after glancing off the heads of two Quakes, and the Mexican forward slotted it home to give Chivas USA a lead they would not relinquish.
San Jose’s opportunity to even the score went begging five minutes later when Stephenson had an open look at goal only to miss wide right.
Searching for an equalizer, San Jose brought Alan Gordon on for Sam Cronin in the 71st minute, but the Quakes struggled to break down Chivas USA's backline. Off a free kick in the 81st minute, the Earthquakes had their best chance as Ty Harden’s header forced Kennedy to make a diving save to keep them off the scoreboard.
Marco Delgado should have doubled Chivas USA’s advantage in the 84th minute, but he missed an empty net after some good setup work by Leandro Barrera. San Jose tried to make the Goats pay for that mistake, replacing defender Jordan Stewart with forward Mike Fucito as the game headed into stoppage time, but Chivas USA held strong to earn a hard-fought win.
Chivas USA now head home to the StubHub Center to host Montreal this Saturday, while San Jose get a short break before returning to action at home against D.C. United on July 11.