CARSON, Calif. – In what has been a season of distinct ups and downs for Chivas USA, few have felt the highs and lows as strongly as Dan Kennedy.
Kennedy has spent most of the 2012 season as the team’s top performer, making eye-popping save after eye-popping save to keep the low-scoring squad in more games that perhaps they deserved.
But in the span of a few matches, Kennedy’s season has been somewhat derailed as opponents have had their way with Chivas’ defense, and the goalkeeper has suffered.
“It’s been a brutal two weeks,” Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com.
SAVE: Kennedy robs Quakes' Chavez
Despite a turn of fortunes with the attack, Kennedy has been unable to turn rivals away in the same manner he’d done so well for most of the season. Since Aug. 12, Kennedy has yielded 18 goals, or three less than he’d given up through the season’s first five months.
The stunning rate at which opponents are scoring goals is disturbing and may do emotional and mental damage immediately after matches, but Kennedy said he has not given up on the season.
“As crazy as it’s been, there’s still something to play for,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate that ... even though [results] haven’t gone our way, the results in the league have gone our way. Mathematically, we’re still in it, and we won’t quit until that’s the case.”
The schedule, however, may spin a different yarn.
Chivas USA’s last win was July 28 at Portland. The bottom has fallen out since then, as the club has limped to a 0-3-2 record while being outscored 18-6. The fifth-place club in the table is now Vancouver, who the Goats trail by nine points. To catch the Whitecaps, Chivas would also have to overtake FC Dallas. And with a leaky defense, such a charge seems unlikely.
Still, that knowledge won’t deter Kennedy.
“We’ve taken a couple on the chin,” he said. “[It’s] extremely disappointing but we’ve got to pull together. In my mind, there’s no other way.”
The best way to right the ship is simply to get back to basics, according to Kennedy. The club’s tough-as-nails defense is still there, and it’s just a matter of re-discovering the magic.
“We’re not that far off,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to get back to where we were about a month ago defensively and to me that’s the focus. We continue to adjust, prepare and adjust, and it seems like we’ve gotten away a little from what we were really good at. And that’s defending. We need to make sure we get back to that.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.