CARSON, Calif. – However improbable it seemed, Chivas USA were gearing up for a late-season playoff surge.
Facing 21 possible points from their seven remaining games, Chivas USA needed to snatch as many points as they could in order to reach the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.
But despite a restored sense of urgency, Chivas USA on Sunday reverted back to their biggest nemesis of the season: inconsistency. Struggling to carry over any momentum from a recent two-game surge, Chivas USA lost to Kansas City 2-0 at Home Depot Center on Sunday, damaging their shot at glory as they head down the stretch.
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“Bad performance overall. Defensively we were bad. Offensively we were bad. We couldn’t connect a pass,” Chivas USA forward Justin Braun said. “It comes down to consistency. We were trying to be consistent and [Sunday] wasn’t our night.”
Chivas USA entered the match on a bit of a high. A 2-0 win over New England on Sept. 10 seemed to give the team some faint hopes that their playoff push was more than a dream, and a strong showing against CD Guadalajara in San Diego last Tuesday seemed to solidify that thinking.
Instead, Sunday’s effort left the team wondering if any stretch of games could turn into a positive.
“Right now it’s difficult, but we’ve been inconsistent,” Chivas USA coach Martín Vásquez said. “We put a good performance against New England, against Chivas Guadalajara. Inconsistency has been a problem for us.”
The playoff chase now grows much more difficult for Chivas USA. After Sunday, they are still on 25 points, a full 11 points behind both Seattle and San Jose. In order to reach the playoffs, Chivas USA would need to overcome four teams in the standings over the course of six games.
Asked if the playoffs were out of reach, Chivas USA captain Mariano Trujillo said things appeared bleak.
“Yeah, definitely. Our goal was to win the seven games that we had left and obviously we couldn’t win,” he said. “It’s tough, but we still have six games and we’re going to play those games as a final and we’ll see what happens.”
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Braun added. “They deserved the three points and it’s unfortunate especially with the playoff push we were trying to make, and now it puts us in an even deeper hole.”
Complicating matters against the Wizards was Chivas USA’s lack of firepower. Alan Gordon, MLS Player of the Week after his two-assist performance against New England, was unable to gather the ball much. Neither was Braun, who left the game in the 79th minute with the game still in the balance.
Gordon recorded Chivas USA’s only shot of the game, a slow-rolling attempt in the third minute of stoppage time.
“Maybe we’re not getting enough creativity up there. It’s tough to say exactly what the problem was,” Chivas USA’s Jonathan Bornstein said. “It’s tough to win a game when you only get one shot on goal. That’s pretty obvious.”