The San Jose Earthquakes have one game left in what has been a record-breaking season, though not record-breaking in the way anyone wants to remember.
Entering Sunday's game at Chivas USA, the Quakes have not tasted victory in 14 consecutive games. In 33 games this season, San Jose has collected only 6 victories overall. Both marks are nadirs in club history, and anything but at win at the StubHub Center will extend the futility.
"I want to get a win just as much as these guys do," said interim head coach Ian Russell. "It's been awhile, and they are hungry for it. We need to get a win."
Since a 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders on August 2, the Earthquakes have lost 7 and tied 7 matches. Last week, against the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose did manage a scoreless draw -- the team's first clean sheet since that 1-0 win against Seattle -- and showed some promise.
"We went over the video and it was obvious that we denied any space to Vancouver," said Russell. "The boys did not allow them to play very well. We want to continue doing that against Chivas."
The defensive energy shown by San Jose, something that had been lacking in recent weeks under the guidance of fired head coach Mark Watson, was encouraging, but Russell was quick to concede that his offense needs to do more.
"I thought the game was really good except for our performance in the final third," said Russell. "We've been working on that all week, including a lot of finishing drills. It's a matter of making that final pass a little bit better. We were in clear a few times, but we lacked that final execution on the final pass. If we can clean that up, we'll get some goals."
The Earthquakes will have a healthy roster, for the most part, available against Chivas, the first time that has happened in many month, and Russell expects that he will be able to field a starting eleven that can get the job done against the Goats.
"We have twenty healthy bodies right now, which is something that hasn't been the case too often," said Russell. "We were banged up all year, so it is nice to have guys back these last couple games."
A win against Chivas would vault the Earthquakes past them and the Colorado Rapids and into seventh place in the Western Conference. A tie or loss will leave them in last place in the West, holders of the dubious distinction as finishing with the worst record in franchise history.