Their play lately hasn't been nearly as strong.
Winless in their last five games and with a revamped roster, the Earthquakes hope another date with the Crew can begin a final playoff push when the teams meet Saturday night in Columbus.
The Earthquakes (5-6-7) are mired in a 0-2-3 slump and have been shut out in four of those matches, including a scoreless draw last Saturday against Philadelphia. The skid prompted general manager John Doyle to acquire forward Alan Gordon, midfielder Jacob Peterson and defender Nana Attakora from Toronto on Thursday for forward Ryan Johnson, allocation money and an international player slot.
Doyle said the trade creates more options at each position, which he hopes will push players harder in practice to earn their spots.
"We haven't been happy with the performances - the three ties at home, the game at Chivas (a 2-0 defeat July 6)," Doyle told the league's official website. "We got a forward, a midfielder and a defender. It puts pressure on everybody."
Gordon, who scored four goals in eight games for Toronto, will be reunited with San Jose coach Frank Yallop, who coached Gordon in Los Angeles in 2006 and 2007.
The newcomers will join San Jose mainstays including Chris Wondolowski, who scored one of his team-leading six goals in the 3-0 victory over the Crew on May 14, and former Columbus forward Steven Lenhart, who will return from a suspension after sitting out the match against Philadelphia.
The Crew will look to even the season series at home, where they're 12-3-1 all-time against San Jose. A victory and a New York loss or tie against Chivas on Saturday would put Columbus (7-5-6) in first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Crew made a trade of their own with Toronto on Friday, dealing defender Andy Iro and midfielder Leandre Griffit in exchange for midfielder Tony Tchani. Tchani will be playing for his third team this season after starting with New York.
"Tony is a very good young player who we have followed for a long time, and we are thrilled to have him," coach Robert Warzycha told the Crew's official website. "He is a good passer, he's calm on the ball and he can get forward. He is going to help our team."
Columbus hasn't needed much extra help lately, winning three of its last four games. Jeff Cunningham scored his 133rd career goal to tie Jaime Moreno for the all-time MLS record in the Crew's 1-0 victory over Vancouver on July 6.
"There's never been any pressure (to tie the record)," Cunningham said. "I knew that at some point I'd have a full season to score two goals and at some point I would do it."
San Jose played an exhibition match Tuesday, but Columbus will be playing for the first time in 10 days.
"After so many games it's nice to get a break," Warzycha said. "They got to spend some time with their families and go where it's a peaceful place. Hopefully they were thinking about how to get a championship this year."