Chivas USA have work cut out in bid for playoff berth

Chivas celebrate a Juan Pablo Angel goal

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CARSON, Calif. — The playoffs remain a possibility for Chivas USA, albeit a slim one.

For the Goats to make the postseason, not only will they need help from other teams, but they'll also need to win three straight matches against tough opponents all considered MLS Cup contenders.

However, after preserving their playoff aspirations with a victory against Toronto FC last Saturday, Chivas are realistic — yet confident — about their chances for the postseason.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but I think that it’s a bit late for us,” forward Juan Pablo Ángel said. “The only thing that we can do is control what we do on the field."

The old cliché says that Chivas need to take it “one game at a time.” So be it: Here is a brief look ahead to Chivas’ final three games.

Philadelphia Union, Oct. 2 (Home Depot Center)

Last meeting: June 26 (PPL Park) — PHI 3, CHV 2

Stopping Sébastien Le Toux will be the biggest challenge for Chivas. The Frenchman has seven goals in his last seven matches and has been instrumental during the Union’s four-game unbeaten streak.

With Le Toux and Freddy Adu likely to cause damage up top, the onus will be on defensive midfielder Ben Zemanski to restrict service to the Union attackers. Against Toronto, Zemanski was key in preventing passes to forward Danny Koevermans, and he will need to the same again if his team is to pick up a victory.

The schedule will provide the Rojiblancos with a slight break as Philadelphia must travel across the country to play their second game in just four days after a match against D.C. United on Thursday.

LA Galaxy, Oct. 16 (Home Depot Center)

Last meeting: May 21 (Home Depot Center) — CHV 0, LA 1

With a victory against the Union, Chivas USA will head into their match against their arch rivals with a postseason place still on the table.

The biggest test for the Rojiblancos will be the Galaxy’s skill at set-pieces. Chivas have struggled marking dead-ball opportunities as of late and will need a perfect performance to prevent David Beckham from wreaking havoc on their back line.

When they face off against the Galaxy, not only must Chivas conquer MLS’ finest team, but they must also conquer history: They have failed to register a victory against the Galaxy since Sept. 2007 and are 0-7-4 in all competitions vs. their cross-hall rivals since then.

Perhaps the saving grace for Chivas could be the schedule. The Galaxy will likely have the Supporters' Shield wrapped up by the SuperClásico and will be focused on a must-win match in Honduras against Club Motagua in the CONCACAF Champions League on Oct. 20.

Seattle Sounders, Oct. 22 (Home Depot Center)

Last meeting: Aug. 13 (CenturyLink Field) — SEA 0, CHV 0

The final game of the regular season pits the Rojiblancos against a Sounders team that is a disappointing 0-2-1 against Chivas all-time at the HDC. It's likely Seattle will be playing to solidify the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.

In their last match against the Sounders, poor finishing prevented Chivas from registering full points at CenturyLink Field. But with the in-form Ángel leading the attack, Chivas will be able to test a Sounders defense that is prone to surrendering soft goals.

"We're mathematically still alive," defender Ante Jazic said. "All of our games are at home, so there's no reason why we can't win every game.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com