Slow starts dooming Chivas USA offense as season takes on all-too-familiar plotline

Chivas USA had visions of an exciting final season under the current branding, yet the campaign is slowly becoming memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Although first-year head coach Wilmer Cabrera has led a turnaround, already having matched last year’s win total with more than two months to spare, the Rojiblancos rank last in the league in goals, assists, shots and on-target attempts heading into this weekend’s home matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE, TSN in Canada). They again sit alone at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

At the forefront of those offensive deficiencies are slow starts. The Goats have scored just six goals prior to the halftime whistle – by far the fewest in the league. They are currently caught in a 276-minute scoring drought, which is the eighth longest in MLS this year.

“We don’t have the potent teams that Portland or Seattle or San Jose or LA have, but we feel like we can learn from every single game,” midfielder Mauro Rosales told reporters following last week’s loss to the Timbers.

The lesson last week was an all-too-familiar one.

Chivas USA fell behind 2-0 in the first half and, despite holding more possession in the second half, were unable bounce back, dropping to 1-9-1 on the year when conceding first. The schematics change some when chasing a deficit, and the Goats have been unable to show a knack for the comeback.

“For us, it's not too late; you’re still in the game, but you put yourself in a hole,” midfielder Nathan Sturgis said. “That makes the second half difficult. We did play better [Saturday], but it doesn’t do much if you don’t do that in the first half.”

The Goats clearly need more support for striker Erick "Cubo" Torres, who heads into the weekend tied with Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer for second place on the league’s scoring list at 14 goals this season – four behind New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips and two ahead of the LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane.

Despite his heroics, Torres is not among the top 10 in terms of on-target shots. That's an alarming stat, given that he has scored on all but eight of his shots on goal this season.

“It’s too lonely in the attacking part of the field,” said Rosales, who is among the league leaders with eight assists. “Having four defenders against one, it’s not always a good thing.

"[Torres] needs help from us. The guys coming from the middle need to be organized and in a good shape, [that way] you can have more chances and second balls that will help you moving forward. Our job is to get more options to him.”