CARSON, Calif. — It’s been a rough week for Chivas USA, and a stark lesson in the mysterious nature of Murphy’s Law.
What could have gone wrong certainly went that way for the Goats in their 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last Saturday, thanks to an early defensive miscue and the club’s inability to take advantage of 10-man RSL team for most of the match.
Add in a hamstring injury to ironman defender Heath Pearce and a missed opportunity to gain ground in the playoff race, and the Goats now face a must-win September that will likely determine whether or not the Rojiblancos qualify for the postseason.
Here are a couple of thoughts as the Goats look ahead to their bye week:
Defend your turf
The story of Chivas USA's defeat to Real Salt Lake was a narrative that has become all too familiar for head coach Robin Fraser. Dealing with adversity of their own creation, the Rojiblancos were unable to finish several chances and ultimately ended dropping points at home.
The Goats are now a disappointing 4-5-4 at home this season, but have yet to lose a game at home or away by a margin of more than a single goal. With so many close matches, they understand that there is a thin line between the playoffs and an early end to their season.
“What it is, is reality, we’ve missed opportunities to get points at home early on, in the middle of the year and now in the final stretch,” striker Alejandro Moreno told MLSsoccer.com. “If we want to make a run and we’re serious about making a run, then we need to get points. It’s simple math, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.”
Resting up for the September push
The Goats get their chance to lick their wounds with a bye week this week, allowing them to look ahead to the Sept. 10 match against D.C. United. When Chivas face off against United, the hope will be that their backline will have recovered from a number of injuries with Pearce adding to an injury list that includes Zarek Valentin (quad) and Michael Lahoud (ankle).
Having a near full-strength lineup will be vital for the DC match, as the Rojiblancos are currently level on points with Chivas holding a slim advantage in terms of goal difference.
During September, Chivas will face D.C. United home and away (Sept. 21), the Chicago Fire (Sept. 17) at Toyota Park before closing their month at home against Toronto FC. (Sept. 24). With all four teams currently outside the playoff hunt, the Rojiblancos know that victories are needed.
“I think we need to find a way to get four wins,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “It’s very doable. September is going to be a very important month for us.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano