CARSON, Calif. – What a difference a month makes.
After starting April with the worst record in all of MLS, Chivas USA are on the rise in the Western Conference, sitting just three points away from second place. Riding a five-match unbeaten streak, extended with an emphatic home victory against the New England Revolution last weekend, the Goats have plenty of reasons to savor the club’s recent run of success.
For a team considered to be an afterthought in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, Chivas USA have quietly developed into a strong defensive team – conceding only two goals during the month of April – behind the leadership of defender Heath Pearce and the steady goalkeeping of Dan Kennedy.
While the defense has discovered its formula, the attack has also come into its own, with the Rojiblancos scoring five goals in their last two matches. That total, spearheaded by veteran forward Alejandro Moreno, is nearly double the club’s output from its previous five games. And while it appears that the team is finally clicking, the Goats are not pumping out their chests just yet.
“It’s a quiet confidence,” Pearce told MLSSoccer.com. “When we lost our first few games, we still had a belief system in what we were trying to do. We weren’t there yet, but we didn’t hit the panic button and change the way we play. We stuck to the philosophy of what we’re trying to do and it’s starting to come to fruition for us.”
The momentum that the team has generated in April will face the ultimate test in the month of May with match-ups against several of the league’s top teams. The gauntlet begins with a trip to Utah to face Fraser’s old club, Real Salt Lake, this weekend.
“These games can help you gain momentum in this league,” Kennedy said. “You can see in two weeks just where we are in terms of the league standings, how much victories like this can help. So we just need to keep going in the right direction.”
Following the victory against the Revolution, Fraser - ever the perfectionist - admitted that while he was pleased with the direction of the squad, there was still plenty of room for improvement before they’re in position to challenge the league’s elite.
“Little things that make the difference between a good team and a great team,” Fraser said. “I think we’re becoming a good team, that’s no question, but it’s these little details that are going to make the difference between us being good and great.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano