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Eastern Conference Championship

Chivas USA not making excuses

CARSON, Calif. - Five games in and still Chivas USA searches for its first win. Such a streak can have even the most confident of teams feeling down, and Chivas USA is no exception.

Though players express optimism, there is a sense of pressure surrounding the club.

"(Chivas USA coach) Thomas (Rongen) is not here today. He went to watch the Pumas-Saprissa championship game in Costa Rica right now because he needs to bring in players," defender Ryan Suarez said. "If that's what he feels is needed then obviously there's pressure on our backs to produce and there's pressure on his back to get some results. There's pressure all around. Now it just comes down to, 'Can these boys produce under pressure?'"

Mired in a slump that has lasted nearly two months, Chivas USA has struggled with all facets of the game. The offense has failed to provide sustained and consistent pressure. The defense has defended well in spurts but group defending has been subpar, players say. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan has struggled with adjusting to Major League Soccer.

But even though the club has only played five official matches, Suarez refuses to use that as a crutch.

"Get rid of the terrible excuses that we're new players, we're a new team, that we're an expansion team," Suarez said. "(Salt Lake) has a win. They have two ties. They're getting results. What's their excuse? Nothing. I think we just need to shut up and start playing."

Chivas USA's road has been tough. Already, the Red-and-White has played the defending MLS champion, the three teams picked by many to finish 1-2-3 in the Western Conference as well as the league's hottest and highest-scoring
teams.

Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake will be the first against a team that is not in the top three in either conference table - with the exception of the season opener against 2004 MLS Cup champion D.C. United.

Still, the quality of the opponent is not something the club takes too much into consideration.

"Each game we look at it like we can win. It's just a matter of limiting mistakes and putting together a full 90 minutes against anyone," Guzan said. "We have to approach the game worried about ourselves and not too much worried about them. We're still looking to get our first win and right now that's our No. 1 concern."

Entering its sixth match, Suarez said a win is long overdue.

"We're hungry. We're starving right now," he said. "At this point, we need to start playing our game. We need to fight, claw, scratch at everything we can. ... It just hasn't been good enough."

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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