CARSON, Calif. – It’s difficult to say what exactly sticks out the most from Chivas USA’s latest loss.
Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake was Chivas’ sixth consecutive loss, trying a club record, and kept them alone at the bottom of the Western Conference table. The match also saw the club’s scoreless streak reach a season-high 442 minutes.
It’s a perfect storm of futility for Los Rojiblancos, and the team is the one fueling the fire.
“Once again, we shot ourselves in the foot,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser told reporters after the match. “It’s always difficult to compete when you make critical mistakes and give teams leads.”
RSL took a 2-0 lead with just 11 minutes gone due to loose marking and a poor pass by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. The loss, though, did not keep the Goats (7-16-7) from being eliminated from playoff contention. Vancouver were unable to beat Seattle and thus Chivas USA’s tenuous hold on playoff contention remained alive, however unlikely that scenario seems.
Unlike previous outings, the Rojiblancos were unable to stay in contention for much time. They surrendered second-half goals in 1-0 losses to both D.C. United and Columbus in the last two matches, while Seattle needed an 89th-minute goal to put them away on Sept. 8.
RSL though struck early. Fabián Espíndola picked out Javier Morales inside the penalty area in the eighth minute, and Morales flicked a header on to the far post. Álvaro Saborío was there and easily tucked the ball into the back of the net, opening a long night.
“They’re a very good team to begin with,” Chivas midfielder Pete Vagenas said, “and spotting them two goals is going to be an uphill battle. Some uncharacteristic mistakes early on and we just couldn’t get out of the hole.”
Chivas tried to stay in the match as Miller Bolaños tested ‘keeper Nick Rimando three times with RSL ahead 2-0. While Rimando was solid, the Goats went into halftime thinking the match was there for the taking.
“We came into halftime and the message was, the next goal is going to win this game – it was that type of game,” Vagenas said. “As the game went on we had to continue to push because there’s no point in losing 2-0. We left ourselves exposed and they’re a quality team with quality players and they made us pay.”
Saborío completed his hat trick in the 65th minute after lifting a ball over Kennedy, off the crossbar and over the goal line while Paulo Jr. put an exclamation mark on the victory when he ripped a shot into the corner of the net in the 81st minute.
“Right now it seems like we’re getting punished for every small mistake, every little detail we miss, we get punished for it," Kennedy said. "This is a time of year where teams gain momentum for the playoffs or they don’t. [Saturday] we ran into a team that’s gaining a little bit of momentum.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.