CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA kicked off the second half last weekend like they did the 2014 season: with a home victory that kindled a semblance of hope among the players and coaches.
Now, the Rojiblancos have some very recent history to look on for inspiration. They followed up their season-opening win four months ago by grabbing just three points from their next eight matches and spiraled to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They have yet to dig themselves out of that hole, but at least they took a promising step Saturday that has them in a position to leapfrog the San Jose Earthquakes if they were to leave Buck Shaw Stadium with a win Wednesday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
“We know each other better now,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera told reporters. “Now the team is more compact and players are working better. We know how to do the job. When we go away [from home], we are more synchronized.”
The Goats might have to be well tuned following yet another roster shakeup this week that sent former No. 2 overall MLS SuperDraft selection Carlos Alvarez to the Colorado Rapids for fellow midfielder Nathan Sturgis. Alvarez, a native of East Los Angeles, did not have any goals or assists in 11 league appearances this year after registering two goals and three assists in 29 games as a rookie in 2013.
Aside from the addition of Sturgis, Chivas USA are also due to regain the services of World Cup participants Marvin Chavez (Honduras) and Oswaldo Minda (Ecuador) soon – though Cabrera hinted that he intended to let them regroup both mentally and physically for a few days.
“When you finish a competition like the World Cup, you need a bit of a mental break,” said Cabrera, who represented Colombia in the 1998 World Cup. “All that adrenaline you’ve been spending on the tournament, you can’t recover in two or three days. We’re going to give them a little bit of a break, but obviously we need them – they’re World Cup players.”
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Cabrera on Saturday fielded the exact same starting lineup that took the pitch just before the two-week break from league play, and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy credited that consistent look as a reason why he managed his first shutout of the year.
“Our midfield is moving real well together and the back four has settled in,” Kennedy said. “We just have to keep building. This is a tricky league – you win two or three games and it can change a lot. We can climb up more quickly if we can find a way to rattle off a couple wins here.
“We put together a couple good performances before the break, so now, if anything, it’s going to be nice to get Minda and Chavez back in the mix and continue to create a competitive environment.”