CARSON, CALIF.— Chivas USA are approaching their most important part of the season and are still dealing with an old problem.
Just where will the goals come from?
The Goats will face off against D.C. United on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) in their first of two matches in 11 days against the club, with both teams battling for the 10th and final playoff berth, the series will likely decide their playoff fortunes. However, for the Rojiblancos to earn a victory against D.C—and qualify for the playoffs – the Goats must begin finding the back of the net with regularity.
Scoring issues have been a problem throughout the season for the Goats, who have been shutout 10 times this season. Although Chivas USA scored more than two goals twice during the month of August, they were shut out three times, including their last two matches against Portland and Real Salt Lake.
The task of providing a scoring punch during the playoff stretch will likely fall squarely on the shoulders of forward Juan Pablo Ángel, who has scored once in two appearances for Chivas USA since moving from the LA Galaxy. After a whirlwind move, Ángel has admitted that building a partnership with Justin Braun, Alejandro Moreno or Marcos Mondaini will take time, but he is optimistic that one can develop.
“Building a partnership takes time,” Ángel said. “Everything has been extremely quick for me, just adjusting to the way that the team plays and them adjusting to the way that I do things on the field. Also, I’m trying to get used to the partnership that I’m playing with Alejandro [Moreno] since I haven’t had much time to work with him because he’s been out on international duty. This week I’ve been working with Marcos and Justin, everyone is different.
“All of us bring different to the table and it’s about getting minutes to know each other.”
Eager to prove his leadership, the veteran of many MLS playoff chases with the New York Red Bulls admits that believes that the match against DC is a final of sorts for the Goats.
“From now on, its playoff time for us, every game is decisive and we need to take it like that,” Ángel said. “It’s going to be a final, one of those teams that are right in the hunt with us and we need to make sure we get it right. We’re playing at home then at their home and we’ve got to just make sure to win this game no matter what if we want to make the playoffs.”
Although the goals will be vital to Chivas’ success, they will be boosted by a number of returnees in the back. Right back Zarek Valentin (quad) and midfielder Mike Lahoud (ankle) are likely to return to action when the Rojiblancos face United after missing the last match against RSL. This will provide the Goats options in defense after losing Heath Pearce for at least three weeks due a hamstring injury.
Although the questions are numerous ahead of the match with United the goal is simple: win.
“We’re in a dogfight on the outside looking in now, but we know that,” said Chivas head coach Robin Fraser. “We’re playing with a team that is directly competing with us for at the moment the ten spot so obviously in our minds, it’s a must win.”