During the month of May, Chivas USA proved they’re good enough to take on the top teams in MLS. Beating those teams may be another matter.
The Goats acquitted themselves well over the past 30 days in which they took on several of the league’s top sides, going a respectable 1-2-1 over four matches. That momentum could help them make a run up the table during June, with three home matches including two dates against expansion sides. But in order to do so, they still have some major work to do.
Here’s what we’ve learned about Chivas USA this past month.
Mental miscues are still an issue
It was the costly mistakes that were the difference between draws and victories for Robin Fraser’s crew. While at times the Goats showed flashes of fortitude like Justin Braun’s hat trick against New York, there were too many lapses like going down to nine men against Real Salt Lake or losing three leads in last Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Columbus.
For a team that has aspirations of reaching the playoffs, correcting these mistakes may prove the difference from going from also-rans to competitors.
“You can call it mental lapses or some of it growing pains,” defender Ante Jazic told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday night. “Some of the goals that we conceded [in Columbus] shouldn’t happen, and the other was just a mental mistake. Going forward, we need to eliminate them and we hope to because we work on them every week in training.”
Midfield play key for results
When the Rojiblancos found success, their midfield was able to pressure opponents into turnovers while controlling a great deal of the possession and subsequently turning that into chances. When their midfield game stifled, the Goats struggled to create scoring opportunities.
“When we’re together as a unit, we’re successful, but when we play as individuals then we’re not very successful,” Jazic said. “When guys are on the same page then we get results, so going forward, we can put together positive results by being compact and playing together.”
The Rojiblancos will start off June without a pair of their starters as winger Jorge Flores is suspended for Wednesday’s match against Vancouver after picking up a red card against Columbus while midfielder Simon Elliott will also miss the game while on international duty with New Zealand.
Road form still tops home comforts
The Goats picked up four points away from the Home Depot Center in three matches during May, but struggled in their lone home fixture, a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the SuperClásico. With the vital summer months approaching, Chivas USA are the only MLS side to lose three matches at home with a home record of 1-3-1.
But on the road, Fraser’s side is a different team, with a 2-1-3 record. June will provide Chivas with an opportunity to return to form at home, with three matches starting with two in four days against expansion sides. While the form sheet may tell a different story, Jazic remains adamant that the team’s mentality is the same both at home and away.
“We have the same game plan, we want to get at teams and be on the front foot,” he said. “I don’t think that we look at either game as being an advantage or a disadvantage — it’s the same to us.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano