Chivas USA still seeking first goal in April amidst player absences due to injury, suspension
CARSON, Calif. – If consecutive losses weren’t worrisome enough, Chivas USA face further uncertainty in their lineup heading into Saturday’s home match against the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live) due to the suspensions of midfielder Edgar Mejía (red card) and defender Bobby Burling (five yellows).
It’s become a challenging task for head coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá, who once again is in search of the ideal combination as he works with an injury-plagued roster.
“At this point, we don’t know who’s going to play,” said defender Carlos Borja, a candidate to fill in for Burling. “Anybody can play in our system with the way we work hard. Any of us can step into that role defensively. If coach calls upon me, it’s my role to work hard.”
Highlights: Chivas USA's loss at RSL
Chivas USA have not scored since Eric Avila’s right-footed volley at the 55th-minute mark of the victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 30. The goal came 20 minutes after Juan Agudelo suffered a hamstring injury he has yet to fully recover from.
Although the Goats did have creative movements in the last two league matches, they failed to capitalize on two penalty shots.
“Offensively we need to create something and get goals,” said midfielder Carlos Álvarez (above), who could see a shift in roles with Mejia unavailable this week. “We’re doing the right things, we just need to put it behind the net. … Hopefully we can get that winning mentality back.”
In last week’s loss at Real Salt Lake, Burling received his fifth yellow card of the season, and Mejía earned a straight red card. The latter came in the waning minutes, as Mejia extended a blatant forearm to the face of RSL's Ned Grabavoy.
Thumb Wars: Borja vs. Iraheta
“The coach doesn’t talk to us about lineups,” Giovani Casillas told MLSsoccer.com, “but I’m working in case it’s my turn.”
Reinforcements appear to be on the way, as Oswaldo Minda (quad) and Wálter Vílchez (knee) returned to training this week, albeit in a limited capacity. Forward Julio Morales was called into Mexico’s Under-20 national team training camp, leaving José Correa and Tristan Bowen as the probable starters up front with Agudelo still on the mend.
“Juan is growing as a player and was hitting his stride this season,” captain Dan Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com recently. “He’s given us more this year than he ever gave us last year. We need to make sure we protect him from himself a little bit.
"I know he wants to play every game, but if he’s got something, he’s got to take care of it now so it doesn’t last a long time. For us, if he has to miss one game in order to be fit for the rest, then that’s a sacrifice we have to make.”
Blair Angulo covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com.