CARSON, Calif. — Lapses in concentration have crippled Chivas USA during the last few weeks. Heading into this weekend, they're looking to get their collective heads on straight.
The Rojiblancos have plunged toward the bottom of the Western Conference table, sitting second-from-bottom after going on a three-game losing streak. One recurring theme throughout the slump has been the so-called “mental mistakes” that have proved the difference between three points and none at all.
In light of their recent struggles, the mood around the Chivas USA camp this week has been somewhat testy. On Saturday, the Rojiblancos will take on the Chicago Fire in hopes earning just their second victory in eight matches.
During the first half of the season, the Goats have become notorious for blowing early leads and failing to win points in matches despite perhaps doing enough to earn a result.
This lack of discipline has been particularly hard for head coach Robin Fraser, who has preached since his appointment the importance of staying alert and focused on defense.
Fraser—always the perfectionist since his prestigious playing career—admitted frustration in dealing with his team's recent growing pains.
“There are good days and bad days," Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. “I like a lot of what the team has done and what the players have put forth—certainly as someone who really prides myself on the details as I did as a player and a coach. It's certainly hard for me to accept when we make mistakes and lose games."
The dissatisfaction hasn’t been limited to the coaching staff, however. During their hard-charging training sessions this week, the Rojiblancos appeared far more vocal than usual, clearing hoping to motivate their teammates.
Following one of Chivas USA’s intense trainings in preparation for their match against Chicago, midfielder Ben Zemanski was blunt in saying what needs to change for the Rojiblancos to return to their winning ways.
"We need to get back to what's going to make us a successful team and that's having our whole roster not want to lose,” Zemanski said. “You need to have guys who are willing to sacrifice everything that they have in order to win and not lose a game."
As the team looks forward, the Rojiblancos will take consolation from the fact that they sit just three points from a potential playoff berth heading into July, and that they play three home games this month. However, if they're going to become a contender this summer, Fraser said the task is simple: His team just needs to concentrate.
"Without a doubt, this is a team that just needs to realize how important it is to concentrate for a full 90,” said Fraser. “We've given up a lot of leads and that's just not good enough and we've given up too many goals and that's just not good enough."
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano