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It’s a night of nothing for Chivas, San Jose

Times Staff Writer

Dour doesn’t begin to describe it.

For 84 minutes Saturday night, Chivas USA and the San Jose Earthquakes canceled each other out at the Home Depot Center, two teams in the lower reaches of Major League Soccer striving to stay in the playoff picture.

Then came an eye-opening moment. San Jose winger Ronnie O’Brien unleashed a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area and Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton flung himself through the air, reaching up and batting the ball away with his left arm before crashing to the ground.

It was a great save, the highlight of the night, and it preserved a 0-0 tie that did not help either team much in the woeful Western Conference, where every team but defending MLS champion Houston is under .500.

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The tie left sixth-place Chivas (6-9-6) without a win in six consecutive games and last-place San Jose (5-9-7) without a loss in its last six matches.

Still, Chivas Coach Preki was upbeat, his team having created half a dozen scoring chances.

“We had 10 good looks,” he said. “The commitment we were playing with was magnificent.

“I think they all worked hard and were committed and didn’t give up anything easy.”

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All the same, it was the seventh time in 21 games this season that Chivas was shut out. Creating chances and finishing them are not the same thing, and three or four Chivas players were guilty of squandering solid goal-scoring opportunities.

The first half offered distressingly ample evidence that the game was being played between the teams with the worst and second-worst records in the league. The play was scrappy and disjointed.

San Jose did not create a scoring opportunity in the first 45 minutes and didn’t have a shot on target until the 63rd minute, leaving Thornton to ponder what else he might have been doing on a Saturday night in Southern California.

The fans might have been thinking the same thing.

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Chivas, meanwhile, did manage to cause a flutter or two of anxiety among the Earthquakes defenders, but not much.

The home team’s best scoring opportunity came in the 29th minute when forward Ante Razov was rudely bundled down from behind by San Jose’s Darren Huckerby on the edge of the penalty area.

The resulting free kick was well in Razov’s range, but he tried to finesse the shot and ended up chipping it feebly wide of the right post.

Razov dragged another shot wide right seven minutes into the second half after Sacha Kljestan’s pass had put him in alone against goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

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Five minutes later, Kljestan lofted a free kick over the crossbar. Not long thereafter, Jonathan Bornstein blasted a shot wide of the right post.

Chivas leaves today for Panama, where it will play Tauro FC in Panama City on Tuesday in the preliminary round of the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League.

The second match in the two-game series is in Carson on Sept. 2.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com


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