CARSON, Calif. – In the close-season postmortem, Chivas USA will do their due diligence to figure out why a team that looked like a contender at times ended up finishing well out of the playoff picture.
And when they look, they’ll examine Sunday’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas and see some of the things that could have pushed them from the periphery into the hunt.
“When you lose games, it wears on your belief,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said after the game. “If a game like this occurs early in the season and we finish it off and we win, who knows, maybe we're having a different discussion now.”
In the first half vs. FCD, Chivas showed their penchant for giving up early goals and an inability to generate chances. But in the second half the club also showed qualities not often seen in 2012, particularly in August and September – most notably a swarming and unrelenting attack.
The confidence that grew as the game went on had been long dormant.
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“It looked almost like two different teams,” Fraser said. “It’s that feeling that once you’re feeling you’re on the front foot, then that confidence and conviction and belief grows.”
Were it the middle of the season, perhaps Sunday’s match could have been a breakthrough performance. That it comes with two games remaining on the calendar is disappointing – Chivas have only an inconsequential match against Colorado, and then a possible spoiler’s role at FC Dallas, and then the post-mortem awaits.
Still, the team will try and build on the latest outing and close out the season strong.
“At the end of the day you want to field your best team regardless of whether you're in the playoffs, whether you're out of the playoffs. Every game is a game to be won,” Fraser said. “We want to be at our best, and that's how we'll approach these next couple of games.”
Fraser gets a look at central defensive pairing
Bobby Burling and Shalrie Joseph played together in the middle of the Goats defense vs. FCD, and while it may have seemed odd to see the two playing next to one another, it also got the job done.
“I thought the partnership was quite good,” Fraser said. “I thought they had a little miscommunication or error in judgment that led to the first goal, but aside from that I felt like they had a good understanding between themselves, good ability to cover each other, played with a lot of confidence in each other, which was good to see.”
Seeing Burling put together a solid outing was significant, said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Burling had played just once prior to Sunday, in a 6-2 loss to Seattle. But Kennedy insisted that result was perhaps too cruel for Burling as Seattle put away nearly all the chances they created on the night.
“That’s really how that game went. They were clinical with them,” he said. “I was really glad Bobby got in there and showed what he can do and what influence he can have.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org