CARSON, Calif. – For the first time in several months, Chivas USA will begin a week without having the prospect of US Open Cup success in front.
But less than a few days removed from their Open Cup ouster, Chivas players and coaches said the run served them well and will continue to help fuel their run to a possible playoff berth.
“It was a good run, we can learn from it definitely,” Chivas defender James Riley (above) said. “Our focus [now] is on MLS play and obviously trying to get into the playoff race and get our spot that way.”
Chivas were within one match of what would have been their first-ever final in any competition. While the run came up short, there were several moments that helped give the club hope and showed their character. Twice, the Goats found themselves tied heading into stoppage time and twice they scored a stoppage-time goal to win and advance in the tournament.
Such fire and urgency gives the club hope that there are better days ahead.
“We don’t want to have to wait until the 94th minute, 95th minute to win games, but obviously the big thing was that we were able to win those games against stiff competition for sure," Riley said. "The USL teams are not easy teams by any means. To be able to win those games was good and obviously that should be a building block with what we’re trying to cultivate here in the second half of the season.”
After a bit of a league layoff – just one MLS match since June 23 – Chivas will have quite a bit of action coming up and a chance to move up the table. Chivas host Portland on Wednesday afternoon (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online) before playing the LA Galaxy on Saturday.
Perhaps some of the drama felt in the US Open Cup matches could carry over into league play.
“We speak about [the urgency] in a broad spectrum but we’ve identified key areas where we just need to be a bit more urgent, a bit more forward-thinking in certain aspects of the game,” Riley said.
In fact, Chivas have already shown a bit of the positive side effects from their Open Cup run. In their last league outing – a scoreless match against Vancouver on July 7 – their intensity seemed to grow as the match went on.
With some of that sustained effort, their hopes of gaining points and moving up the table will surely grow.
“The second half, the urgency was there – guys making tackles, recovering balls, running through, combining, first efforts, second efforts, third efforts, guys making defensive plays, offensive plays, guys sacrificing their bodies to get on the end of things," Riley added. "In that regard, it was very good. If we can put 90 minutes together, we’ll definitely be in a good spot.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com