CARSON, Calif. — Just several weeks ago, Chivas USA were the toast of MLS. But now, the club fears it may be taking a step backward in their project to become one of the league’s elite teams.
The Rojiblancos will hope to improve their 1-3-2 home credit — one of the worst in MLS — on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live) against a Portland Timbers side that has yet to earn a victory away from JELD-WEN Field this season.
The Rojiblancos struggled to control possession and create chances — which had been their signature — during a midweek draw against Vancouver. Despite having a man advantage for 22 minutes, the Goats were unable to find a goal, which led to claims of “complacency” at home in the locker room.
“It’s something that definitely needs to be addressed,” defender and captain Heath Pearce said of his team, which has coughed up four leads in their past two games. “We don’t want to turn this into bad habits and turn it into something that we come out next game and do. At the same time, it’s something that needs to be addressed and then moved on from. I think it’s important for us to have a clean slate and we get to do that on Saturday. It’s another chance to get three points and move on.”
To help them get over the lack of intensity, Chivas USA will return several players from international duty and suspension. Simon Elliott will return to his defensive midfield role for the Goats after a midweek stint with New Zealand while Jorge Flores will man the left side of midfield after returning from a red card suspension.
However, the biggest return is that of forward Marcos Mondaini.
Mondaini returns to the Chivas USA lineup after serving a four-game suspension for a late tackle that injured Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales. The Argentine will likely partner with Justin Braun up top, filling in for Alejandro Moreno while Moreno is on international duty with Venezuela.
For head coach Robin Fraser, Mondaini's return is a huge boost to the Rojiblancos.
“It’ll help a great deal,” said Fraser. “He’s only scored the one goal, but he’s created a number of chances of us and he’s a player who on his best days is able to find space, give service and create chances.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano