CARSON, Calif. – The chance for Chivas USA to get back into the playoff race was alive and well heading into August. But as they prepare to close out the month with a midweek match in New England, it seems the door has just about shut.
Two losses and one draw against Western Conference clubs, including Saturday’s disastrous 6-2 loss to Seattle, have left the Goats in seventh place, a full 10 points back of fifth-place Vancouver.
Their lone saving grace is games in hand. Chivas have played 23 times, while the Whitecaps have played 27.
So, now what?
“Now, it’s all about pride,” Chivas USA ‘keeper Dan Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com “It’s just about pride, every week going out there and playing for the team and playing for yourself and giving this everything you’ve got.”
With the task of making up such a distance over the last two months of the season perhaps being too big a hurdle, will the players view games differently, perhaps with less pressure?
“For me, pressure is what you make of it,” Kennedy said. “Once the game starts, you’re not thinking about any of that stuff. You’re just trying to win.”
Center back swap
The center of defense remains a going concern. Rauwshan McKenzie and John Valencia have each seen their share of time alongside Danny Califf, a stalwart who had played every minute of every league game since joining the club on May 17.
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Head coach Robin Fraser opted for newly signed Bobby Burling against Seattle on Saturday, giving the veteran his first start of 2012.
Fraser said the club’s schedule was behind the move.
“We look at the games coming up and a lot of travel this week,” Fraser said. “Certainly, Bobby has been training with us for a while so we were looking forward to the opportunity to be able to rotate with him. Rauwshan is in contention as well – he’s played a number of good games with us this year.”
Chivas will play at New England on Wednesday (8 pm ET; watch LIVE online) and at San Jose on Sunday, and such a taxing stretch calls for more players rotating in and out of the lineup, Fraser said.
“Really it’s just one of these things at this time of year you have to look at getting the best out of everyone and every day,” the coach said. “With three games this week, it was a consideration.”
Out of sight, out of mind?
Never before – not even during the wretched 2005 expansion season – had Chivas yielded six goals in a game. Five goals, yes; four times, in fact. But never six.
Saturday, in other words, was a long day at the office.
“Get away, quickly put it behind us,” midfielder Nick LaBrocca said. “It’s what we need to do.”
The hope is that will be done by Wednesday against the slumping Revolution.
“It’s good to just get on the road and get out there and just go play again,” Kennedy said.
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org