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Thornton, Chivas USA blank San Jose 1-0

May 3, 2009 - 6:03 AM SANTA CLARA, Calif. (STATS) - Even at 35, Zach Thornton knew he was capable of being a force in goal again. Chivas USA is finding that out first-hand.

Justin Braun's first goal of the season was all the help Thornton needed for his fifth straight shutout, and Chivas USA beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Saturday night.

Thornton made six saves to increase his league-leading shutout total for Chivas (6-1-1), which took a six-point lead in the Western Conference. With Thornton in net for all eight matches, Chivas has conceded only three goals.

"I knew in my heart I was capable of playing well again," said Thornton, a 13-year veteran who was last a full-time starter with Chicago in 2006. "Things are clicking really well right now."

Braun scored in the 53rd minute after Jonathan Bornstein sent a high, arcing cross from the left sideline into the Earthquakes' penalty area.

San Jose defender Nick Garcia and goalkeeper Joe Cannon each seemed to think the other was going to make a play. Instead, Braun slipped a right-footed shot from the box past Cannon.

"We moved the ball pretty good, we had numbers going forward," Chivas coach Preki Radosavljevic said. "It was just a matter of time when we were going score the goal."

Braun also scored the only goal in Chivas' 1-0 road victory over the Earthquakes last season.

"I guess it's my spot," Braun said. "I wish I could play here every week so I could get that goal every week."

San Jose (1-4-2) dominated play early on, but that control seeped away as Chivas handed the Earthquakes their fifth consecutive MLS loss.

Ryan Johnson appeared to have tied the score in the 82nd minute when he headed in a deflected pass at close range, but it was nullified by an offsides call.

"I'm tired of trying to point the finger," Cannon said. "I'm going to take this game and just say I'll put it on my shoulders. . . . It's unfortunate. It's something different every game, but we do need to start finding answers."

The Earthquakes put an early scare into Chivas' league-leading defense when midfielder Ramiro Corrales found Shea Salinas open on the right side less than 90 seconds into the match. Salinas fired a low shot from the edge of the penalty box, but the ball bounced squarely off the far post.

Arturo Alvarez caught Thornton off his line in the 24th minute, but he was able to make a scrambling one-handed punch save to turn aside Alvarez's scooped shot.

"To have a keeper back there that's going to bail us out like that, it fires you up," Braun said. "You want to go out there and get that goal for him, to make it a little easier for him."

Chivas nearly came up with the game's first goal in the 36th minute when Braun was sprung free by a pass from Bojan Stepanovic.

Braun's shot was partially deflected by an onrushing Cannon, but the ball rolled to the far side of the field, giving Paulo Nagamura a clean look at an open net. Nagamura banged his shot off the post.