CARSON, Calif. — Postseason berths are not quite up for grabs yet at this point of the season, but if Chivas USA falter in this upcoming stretch of games, they won't have much grabbing to do.
Starting with Wednesday afternoon’s encounter against Portland (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online), Chivas will play three crucial matches in 10 days that could easily determine the Rojiblancos' fate in 2012.
“We’re at make or break time in the season anyway, and if we have ambitions to make the playoffs this is our most important stretch, certainly so far in the season,” Chivas USA defender Danny Califf said. “Our attitude is that we have to win.”
After Wednesday’s tilt, Chivas will face their Home Depot Center co-tenants for a primetime match with the LA Galaxy on Saturday before visiting Portland on July 28. The next match after that is one final SuperClasico date with the Galaxy on Aug. 12.
Chivas' position in the table is not entirely favorable, but it's not exactly dire either. They have played just 17 games — the fewest in the Western Conference — and can move up the table regardless of what other teams do. Their 20 points, though, sit them just one above of Portland and FC Dallas.
“It’s going to take wins, right?” Califf said. “We have to win the games against the teams that are below us or even with us essentially, especially this four-game stretch. [These] two against Portland and two against the Galaxy are huge games.You’ll see in us a sense of urgency straight away.”
Whether his club gets full points or leaves them on the table, Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser does not want to put all of his hopes into the club’s upcoming games quite yet. Must-win? Probably not, he said, but it could be the next-closest thing.
“There are so many games in the West that I don’t want to say it is ‘do or die,’ but it certainly is a critical juncture for us,” Fraser said. “We feel as if it’s a good opportunity for us to gain some ground in the standings. We have to treat this stretch of games as such.”
Prior results in league play have perhaps not given the club the confidence necessary to go on a run — after all, Chivas have pieced together one successful winning streak which lasted all of two games, but the team’s self-assurance is still quite strong.
“We’re not as high in the table as we want to be," Califf added. “We feel that we’re a good enough team to be in the top five certainly.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.