Chivas USA’s 2010 MLS season starts Friday evening with the team hosting the Colorado Rapids at the Home Depot Center. As the Red-and-White prepare for the club’s sixth season, here are five things that must change from 2009 if they are to make a real run at the MLS Cup this year.
1. The Offense
Here’s a staggering statistic: Chivas USA didn’t score more than two goals in any one match last year. Not one. The team tallied a dismal 34 notches last season, good for the lowest mark in the Western Conference. More specifically, the Red-and-White have to figure out how to score on the road; the team earned a goals-per-game average of 0.6 in all of last year’s away matches. I’ve heard people say that defense wins championships, but you can’t even get to the championship if you aren’t finding the back of the net in the earlier rounds. Chivas USA must score more goals in 2009.
2. The Super Clásico
I’m sick of losing to the LA Galaxy. I know they’ve been in the league longer than Chivas USA has been, but I don’t care. The Red-and-White have finished above their cross-town rivals in three of the last four seasons, but have only ever claimed the Super Clásico trophy once (in 2007). Last season was particularly frustrating, as Chivas dropped two consecutive 1-0 losses to Landon Donovan & Co. It’s time for the tide to change.
3. The Playoff Curse
Chivas USA have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round in each of the last four years. They fell victim to Houston in 2006, Kansas City in 2007, Salt Lake in 2008 and LA last year. The last thing the Red-and-White want to do is make it an even half-decade this year. The team must figure out how to push past that hurdle and finally give the Chivas USA fans the Conference Final appearance they so badly desire.
4. The Big Games
I hate to say it, but Chivas USA are no good in the clutch. The Red-and-White can always beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, but when it comes time for giant-killing, they seem to lose their nerve. Last year, the club went 1-7-1 against the four teams that finished in the top two of their conference (Columbus and Chicago in the East, Los Angeles and Houston in the West). Chivas needs to start knocking off big-time opponents if they are to be taken seriously this season.
5. The Final 10 Minutes
One in every five goals scored against Chivas USA in 2009 came in the final ten minutes of play. Not too much more to say on this one other than the Red-and-White must be more resolute in the closing moments in 2010.