Santa Clara, CA – Chivas USA will be looking for a much better start against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday than what the team has produced over its last two games.
Chivas head coach Robin Fraser saw his side fall behind 3-0 in the opening 34 minutes of a 6-2 defeat against Seattle Sounders FC last weekend. So when the Goats went three goals down once more in New England after 21 minutes on Wednesday, Fraser had to be bracing for the worst.
But instead, Chivas rallied to cut the deficit to 3-2 at halftime after a pair of goals from former Rev Shalrie Joseph, while Miller Bolanos tallied the equalizer early in the second half.
Chivas may be winless in its last four games, but Fraser's team has to be feeling really good about picking up a point on the road after such a poor start.
"Every game is important for us and we're trying to get three points every time we go out," Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. "We're unhappy with the way it started, spotted them two goals early and then eventually three but I'm really proud of the character the team showed in coming back."
"I'm very, very proud of that. It's easy to fold your tents when you're down 3-0. We've seen the team fight back a couple of times now and, obviously, in the end, we fell short on the weekend - but I thought today we did a very good job of getting back to even."
With Chivas sitting nine points back of fifth-place Vancouver for the final playoff spot, it is imperative that the club doesn't continue to have to dig itself out of early holes, although having three games in hand on the Whitecaps still makes them a legitimate threat.
San Jose is a team that hasn't had to worry too much about coming from behind, considering the club sits seven points clear at the top of the Western Conference.
Much of that success is down to the club's potent attack, which has scored 52 goals in 26 games and is led by prolific striker Chris Wondolowski with 18 goals.
But he has had some help this season with forwards Alan Gordon (11 goals) and Steven Lenhart (eight) both chipping in plenty, while a new face may be emerging in the form of Simon Dawkins.
The Englishman scored a pair of goals in San Jose's 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids last time out, giving him six on the season.
"I've said all along he could be one of the better players in the league," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. "Just with his feet and his vision - and now, he's adding to that with goals and assists. And what I like about him is the really down-to-earth character as well. He comes to work every day with a smile on his face and it shows in the way he plays."
San Jose's attack has thrived with so many players having such good seasons, but Dawkins believes the key is the fact that each player pushes the others to match his success.
"We all have to chip in with scoring goals," Dawkins said. "[Wondolowski, Gordon and Lenhart] have done a wonderful job this season, but as an attacking player, you look at them and say, 'I want to catch them.' It's a little competition between us all. It's healthy. It's good for the team. And that's why we're doing so well right now, because we have that competitive edge about us."