Chivas USA knew there would be hiccups as Robin Fraser and his staff built a new team almost from scratch, and the past 7½ weeks -- since the stirring victory May 15 at New York -- has been a struggle. The Goats have won just once in eight games and have exited most encounters, including last weekend's 1-1 draw with Chicago, frustrated that its good play went unrewarded while mistakes were duly punished.
Fraser was asked after Saturday's game how he keeps his players in a positive mindframe.
"I'm not sure that I am," he answered. "Based on how we started tonight, I'm not so sure that I am."
As Chivas (4-7-6) looks to close a four-game winless streak (on the heels of ending a three-game losing skid) Wednesday night at Home Depot Center against the San Jose Earthquakes, it is doing everything possible to remain positive, a task made easiest by the facility with which the Goats possess the ball and move it around. If they could turn that possession into goals, everything would be wonderful.
"When we do what we do," goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said, "we make it very hard for other teams to play against us. So now it's really just about that, applying that and getting in that mindset, that mentality, to do it for 90 minutes."
"I think we do need to look at the good we're doing ...," he said after the tie with Chicago. "If we only focus on what's negative, then I think guys get a little more uptight and frustrated. I think when we buzz around the midfield. we can be handle to deal with. And I think guys have to certainly keep in mind what we're doing well in addition to what we need to improve at."
Earlier last week, Fraser talked about trying to keep players optimistic when things aren't going well -- about setting a positive tone in training and film sessions.
"The thing is I'm honest. I'm honest," he said. "So if it's not good enough, they hear that it's not good enough. And if it is good enough, they hear that it's good enough. I mean, they get pretty constant feedback, and I think as long as you're honest and fair, then you really don't have to sugar-coat anything.
"Because I think that I'm genuine, I think that when I speak to them they know I'm genuine, and if it's not good enough, they hear it, and if it is genuine, I'll be the first one to applaud them."
Kennedy says there is optimism in Chivas' locker room.
"We're so close. We're so close. I really feel like we are," he said. "And I think, I mean, it will happen for us. It's about building, it's about moving forward, and it's about getting better each game. ... I still feel like July's going to be a very good month for us."
WORTH NOTING: Chivas won the first meeting this season, pulling out a 2-1 victory April in Santa Clara on Mariano Trujillo's 85th-minute goal. ... San Jose has won just one of eight meetings since its restoration in 2008. ... Chris Wondolowski has four goals in his last two games against the Goats, including a hat trick in a 3-0 romp last October. ... Nick LaBrocca and Justin Braun have four goals each to lead Chivas. ... Still no confirmation from the Goats that Ghanaian defender Seth Owusu, who is on trial at Real Salt Lake, has been waived, but he is not listed on the team roster in the game guide circulated by MLS. ... Chivas had the best shot at former University of Michigan forward Soony Saad, who signed with MLS over the weekend, in Tuesday's weighted lottery -- 45.6 percent -- but Sporting Kansas City won his rights. ... Chivas plays Saturday at Sporting. San Jose is home Saturday against Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia Union.
MISSING: Alejandro Moreno is with Venezuela at Copa America, South America's nations championship, with Venezuela's national team. ... Jimmy Conrad (concussion) is officially doubtful, but he will not play. ... Defender Ante Jazic (calf strain) and midfielder Paulo Nagamura (quad strain) are questionable.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
English-born Canadian defender Frank Yallop enjoyed a productive career in his native land, with 13 seasons at Ipswich Town, before wrapping up in MLS and going into coaching. He guided the Earthquakes to two MLS Cup titles, in 2001 and 2003, took on Canada's national team for a spell, was in charge of the Galaxy for a season and a half, and returned to San Jose with the rebirth of the Quakes.
Three key players
Wondolowski was a journeyman forward with just 19 starts and seven goals in six MLS seasons before taking off last year, when he won the Golden Boot as the league's top scorer (with 18 goals) and was an MVP finalist and Best XI selection. He's got six goals in a dozen games this year and is just back from CONCACAF Gold Cup duty for the U.S.
Big forward Steven Lenhart, acquired in a January trade with Columbus, is a menace in the box with a nose for the net. After returning from injury, he has five goals in his last five games, including a hat trick June 11 against D.C. United.
English midfielder Simon Dawkins, who arrived in March on loan from Tottenham, has quickly become the Quakes' most influential player, an effective attacker who can score and create for teammates.
The Quakes (5-5-6) have lost just one of nine games after a 1-4-2 start but haven't won in their last three, following a 1-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City with draws at home against the Galaxy and New York. Wondolowski's return from international duty adds to an increasingly dynamic attack that feeds off Lenhart's physical play up top and Dawkins' craftiness. Injury, suspension and the deal sending Brandon McDonald to D.C. United puts the backline at risk, but San Jose has conceded once or not at all in seven of its last 10 outings.
Lenhart (Yorba Linda) played at Esperanza High School in Anaheim and Azusa Pacific University. ... Big defender Bobby Burling went to school at Loyola Marymount and spent two seasons with Chivas USA. ... Defender Jason Hernandez played 53 games for Chivas in 2006-07. ... Midfielder Rafael Baca (Lawndale), still unsigned but with the club, played at Animo Leadership High School in Inglewood and at Loyola Marymount. ... Yallop was in charge of the Galaxy in 2006-07. Assistant coach Ian Russell played three games for L.A. in '07.
Defender/midfielder Bobby Convey (bruised knee), midfielder Andre Luiz (knee surgery) and defender Ike Opara (foot injury) are out. ... Burling is serving a red-card suspension.
At Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: W Radio (XEWW-AM/690, Spanish)
Referee: Baldomero Toledo