CARSON, Calif. – For all the importance Chivas USA have placed on recent games, they’ve come up with precious little to show for it in the points column.
And there’s one major reason why: Chivas cannot seem to get out of their own way.
Turnovers have been a plague in recent games and have not only disrupted the rhythm players have tried to create during matches but have been gifts for opponents, gifts that have too often ended up in the back of the net.
“Overall we have given the ball away too much,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “It’s something where guys have to continue to take more and more personal pride, especially in critical areas.”
HIGHLIGHTS: COL 1, CHV 1
It was all on display in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Colorado. On the Rapids’ goal, Brian Mullan took the ball away from Shalrie Joseph near the top of the Chivas penalty area before slotting past Dan Kennedy.
Against the LA Galaxy on Aug. 12, turnovers constantly gave the Galaxy the ball in the middle of the field en route to a 4-0 hiding.
So job No. 1 when the Seattle Sounders come to visit on Saturday (10:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online) is to keep the ball. Less scrambling, more soccer.
“Sometimes I think we’re too spread out so when we do have turnovers we’re almost turning into emergency defenders,” Chivas defender James Riley said, “and we’re having to fend for our lives when we have a turnover.”
Chivas have gone through several lineup changes in recent games, likely in an attempt to jump-start the attack. Perhaps the movement within the starting unit has also led to some of the sloppy play.
“It’s all about relationships,” captain Danny Califf said. “A lot of times giveaways happen because guys aren’t confident enough or we don’t have enough movement and we try and force things.”
Training has provided the team an opportunity to work on relationships and focus on correcting the problems but players must do well to protect the ball no matter who is playing alongside, in front or behind them.
“We have to continue to work to give ourselves options when we do play into guys,” Fraser said. “It’s definitely somewhat of a collective thought that we have to improve to create more options for ourselves but individually we have to take responsibility to be able to keep the ball.”
And if there are two key elements missing, the problems could remain.
“It comes down to execution and concentration,” Califf said. “When that’s lacking sometimes the other things don’t matter as much.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org