Chivas USA not giving in just yet
CARSON, Calif. - It has been two full months since Chivas USA have tasted victory. Since beating Real Salt Lake on May 7, Chivas USA has found how to lose in seemingly every way possible.
From the bottom, however, there is only one way to go.
"It's not the situation we wanted to be in on Opening Day. But you know what? We're an expansion team. We're going to take our bumps and this is part of it," Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. "We have some great professionals on our team that are helping the young guys get through it and helping everyone get through it."
Chivas USA enters Saturday's game against Real Salt Lake with 13 defeats - and just the one win - in 17 games. The losses continue to pile up, whether they are of the three-goal variety, as was the case June 25 in a 3-0 loss in Kansas City, or the one-nil kind, like last week's loss to Chicago.
At times, the club has appeared poised for a breakthrough. Other times, the club has just been broken through. Through it all, players are trying to keep their spirits high and trying to focus on the task at hand.
"You try to put it out of your mind because it's just been the same thing these past 10 weeks," Chivas striker Matt Taylor said. "You try to move onto the next game."
The negative side effects of losing do not carry over into matches. After goals are scored against them, players said they do not hang their heads and quit.
When opponents score, players try to "just fight and work as hard as we can," Taylor said. "You can't really take an attitude of being a losing team. You really have to have the mentality that you have to win. You have to do what it takes to get results."
Also, the negativity surrounding losses have not spilled over into the day-to-day processes of the team, players said. Training sessions lack no less intensity now than they did at the beginning of the season. Chivas coach Hans Westerhof keeps the sessions at about 90 minutes and often the club trains twice a day.
Players joke around with each other after training sessions like those on other clubs do. Little black storm clouds do not linger overhead.
"Approaching (matches) is not much different because as you can see we play games like last game where we outplayed the other team but we just didn't win. Approaching them and preparing is the same as any other team I've been on," Taylor said. "After we lose, that's the hardest part. You've got to deal with the loss and handle the lows but getting up for the game, it just makes me want to win even more."
Having a coach like Hans Westerhof around is a good thing, Chivas midfielder Antonio Martinez said.
"We have a coach that motivates us a lot. That's his thing. He tries to work on our mentality," Martinez said.
But as difficult as it is, players said they try not to let losses linger. After losses, players simply try to regroup and focus on the task ahead.
"This is not the first time this happens to the team and it won't be the last," Guzan said. "We'll get through it and we'll move on to the next day."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.