Santa Clara, CA – The San Jose Earthquakes found themselves at the opposite end of the table at this time last season, and Saturday's home match against Chivas USA will give the club a chance to continue its turnaround.
The Earthquakes spent the majority of last season near the top of the Western Conference en route to winning the Supporters' Shield, but they enter Saturday's match with Chivas in eighth place.
The season has been largely disappointing for San Jose, but back-to-back wins over Seattle and Portland at Buck Shaw Stadium moved the team to within five points of a playoff spot, giving them hope that a turnaround is taking place.
"We're on the rise right now," San Jose defender Victor Bernardez said after the win over Portland. "We had a bad start to the season, obviously. Now we're playing better. We feel confident. We look at this like the comeback in the second half -- we came back in games, now we've got to come back in the season and finish the season strong."
As much as San Jose has struggled this year, Chivas has had an even tougher time, winning just four of its 21 games while being rooted to the bottom of the Western Conference.
Chivas has scored just 19 times in those 21 games, and despite playing just two matches this season, rookie Erick Torres is tied for the team lead with two goals.
The emergence of Torres over the past two weeks has been a bright spot for Chivas, with the 20-year-old scoring in each of his first two games in the lineup.
"I'm getting more comfortable every time on the pitch," Torres said. "I have teammates that help me get more and more adapted every day."
Chivas nearly came away with a share of the spoils in Seattle in its last match, but fell short to a Lamar Neagle goal in the second half of a 2-1 defeat.
But despite the frustration of a tough season, the players still seem committed to turning things around.
"We're going to be working all week, working to improve at a personal level. I think every player has to look themselves in the mirror, as people say, and see where we are falling short and try to improve in order to make the team better," Chivas midfielder Jorge Villafana said.