CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA have had nothing this year if not for a strange calendar.
This weekend will mark the third this season the team will have off since play resumed after the league’s break in early June. Just twice in that span have the Red-and-White played on consecutive weekends.
While there are some positives from not playing many June and July league games, there is one strike against that herky-jerky scheduling as well.
“It has its up and its downs," head coach Robin Fraser said. "It gives you time to get guys back, but certainly you want to try and get into a rhythm. If you want to do things well one week, you want to jump in there next week and see if you can continue doing those things.”
Playing a match on Aug. 4 or 5 would have given Chivas the perfect chance to do the latter. They beat Portland by 1-0 on Saturday and a match on the weekend would have allowed them the chance to immediately try and build on that momentum. Instead, they must wait.
But that's nothing new. No team played fewer combined league games in June and July than Chivas, who had just seven opportunities to climb the table in that stretch, and no team has played fewer than their 20 games.
The Goats’ schedule won’t change much until late August. A home match against Seattle on Aug. 25 will kick off an eight-game, 35-day stretch for the club when they'll cash in their games in hand against the rest of the Western Conference and potentially make up ground in the playoff race.
While that may seem advantageous, there is one catch.
“Games in hand don’t do you any good unless you win,” captain Danny Califf said.
Kennedy a constant force
One player who has seemingly been able to shake the challenges the calendar throws his way has been goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. The club’s lone All-Star, Kennedy has been in a rhythm all season, and his performance on Saturday was no exception.
Kennedy made six saves against the Timbers, including a late save on a Kris Boyd shot that could have cost Chivas a pair of points.
While the club has expected such stellar play from him, having Kennedy as the one of the main cogs on this team is not something anyone takes for granted.
“Dan’s been very good all year,” Fraser said after Saturday’s match. “Obviously he made the All-Star team because of it. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and I’ve been saying this all year. As you’re building your team you need to make sure you stay in games, and as you’re building your style of play, you need to make sure you stay in games, and certainly Dan’s done a great job of allowing us to do that.”
Iraheta on the mend
For some time, Marvin Iraheta has been on the training field, but the midfielder had not yet participated in a full training since tearing a knee ligament in January.
Iraheta, though, participated in short-sided games and ran through drills with his teammates last week without any major setbacks and this week could help progress even further.
Still, no matter how well Iraheta responds in training, there is one major part to Iraheta’s rehabilitation: caution. There is still no timetable on a return, Fraser said, simply because the club wants to be cautious with him.
“It’s an ACL, so it takes a certain amount of time to be healthy and bringing him along and making sure he’s strong and making sure he has no setbacks,” he said.
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org