SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Trying to understand just what exactly is going wrong with Chivas USA right now is a silent torment. Frustrated and confused, the players are at a loss for words.
“I’m running out of things to say,” center back and captain Danny Califf said after the Goats' 4-0 loss to San Jose here on Sunday night. “I’m running out of ways to explain how we’re giving up four [expletive] goals on a regular basis.”
Chivas are winless in their last five games, with three losses and two draws. The loss to San Jose was the third loss in a row in which they conceded four or more goals — including leaking six against Seattle a week-and-a-half ago. For a side that boasted the second-toughest defense earlier in the season, failure at the back is a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
“We simply have to be better in the back,” head coach Robin Fraser said. “It’s frustrating. The defending is what kept us in the hunt at the start of the year, and the last couple of games the defending just hasn’t been as good as it needs to be.”
While the defending was paramount early on, the attacking suffered. But in recent matches, the attack has come alive. After posting just five shots against Colorado on August 18, they have exploded for an average of 20 shots per game in the three subsequent matches. They fired 18 shots against San Jose.
“Because we’re throwing a lot of numbers forward, we’re getting exposed in the back,” Califf said, explaining the many chances and freekicks conceded to San Jose. “When you don’t convert chances, you’re going to get a lot of scores like this, where it goes from bad to worse in a hurry. It’s very frustrating to be a defender in that position.”
“We had our chances and we didn’t capitalize on them,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy added simply.
Kennedy’s frustration was clearly visible as he spoke in the locker room after the match. He admitted that this week’s news of a reshuffle in the club’s ownership and the false media report of an executive’s dismissal has made this a stressful week. He revealed that the players have met to discuss the situation.
“When it’s in the media, it needs to be addressed,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “So it’s been addressed, and we need to focus on our job and what we can control, and that’s on the field.”