CARSON, Calif. — Mental lapses and poor performances have seen Chivas USA slide down the Western Conference table during the start of summer.
The Goats have won just one match in their last seven and have stuttered as of late, losing three straight. As the team looks to rebound and get back into the playoff chase, they’ll look for a little home cooking to cure their problems.
The Rojiblancos will play four matches at home during July, starting with Saturday’s matchup against the Chicago Fire (10 pm ET, Galavisión), as well as games against the San Jose Earthquakes (July 6), New York Red Bulls (July 16) and, finally, the Houston Dynamo (July 23). All four teams have endured struggles on the road, with only the Earthquakes winning more than one game away from home, which benefits a Chivas side that has had difficulties in its own stadium.
"It's very important for us, in terms of our schedule,” head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. “July is our most favorable month and it's important that we have this mentality at home that we're going to get three points every time. We've not done that every time and July is a tough month in this league because it starts to get hot everywhere, and to have four games at home is huge."
But home has been less than hospitable for Chivas USA. The club has gone a paltry 2-4-2 at the Home Depot Center during the season. This record may be a cause for concern for Fraser, but the Rojiblancos have not been outplayed in any match on home soil. In fact, in their four loses at home, Chivas USA haven’t been defeated by more than one goal.
The true test for Chivas in July will be converting those one-goal defeats into victories and avoiding the various lapses in concentration that have made the difference. While the Goats have struggled at home, they are hoping what they’ve learned from the previous defeats will show on the field.
"July is a good stretch for us in terms of home games and that's the important thing,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. “Learning from the past and not take the negatives with you because it's a long season and there is still a lot to be won here."
Veteran midfielder Paulo Nagamura is optimistic that a good run of form at home can help turn around the team’s season and even begin to point them back on track to the post season.
"It's very important to get points and, fortunately, we've still got 18 games to go,” he said. “Hopefully there are still a lot of points out there to be taken and we just need to do what we know we can do. We have confidence in this team, things are going to turn around, and it’s just a matter of time."
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano