Even during the toughest of times this season, Chivas USA players and coaches maintained hope in battling for a playoff spot, and spoke about it as if it were a possibility.
It is no longer. Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Vancouver saw to that, as the Caps’ rout officially eliminated Chivas from playoff contention and handed the Goats their seventh straight loss.
With four games still left on the club’s schedule, the focus will now move away from that talked-about-but-unrealistic playoff hunt – and it’s a two-part shift.
“Guys have to be playing for their positions and their jobs,” head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “The other [part] is personal pride, personal pride as a professional athlete. You have to have a certain pride that drives you to be competitive.
“It doesn’t matter if everything is on the line or nothing is on the line – you have to be competitive. Certainly that character is tested in very difficult times, and these are as difficult as times get.”
Indeed, there has never been a more difficult time in Chivas USA’s eight years of existence. Never before has the club lost seven consecutive matches.
The losing streak has been troubling for the entire club. Chivas went from the outskirts of the playoff chase to dead last in the Western Conference table, from a club on the brink of becoming competitive to one that lost all hope.
While some games have gone better than others, and there have been stretches in games where the team played cohesively and competitively, the losses overshadow any progress that has been made.
“There are certain positives you can look at, but really at the end of the day … in professional sports, it’s a results-oriented business,” Fraser said. “You do a few things well and you do many things poorly, at the end of the day that’s your legacy.”
Highlighting the club’s depressing stretch – and season overall – is the team’s current consecutive scoreless minutes skid. After suffering through their fifth consecutive shutout on Wednesday in British Columbia, Chivas have failed to score a goal in their last 532 minutes.
Up to now, there has been no solution for the club’s offensive shortcomings. It’s been a source of frustration since the start of the year, but the team cannot simply give up now that the playoffs are out of reach.
“At this point we can’t throw our hands up in the air. We still have games to play,” Fraser said. “It’s a lot about our thought process in the final third. We’ve spoken time and time again about it, the things we need to do differently in the final third. If we don’t do those things, then we don’t get the results we need.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.