CARSON, Calif. – As head coach Wilmer Cabrera sees it, Chivas USA were in a coma before he arrived. They were in the intensive care unit, waiting to regain consciousness.
Three consecutive losses and an eight-game winless streak have put the Rojiblancos in danger again, but Cabrera, who has shared the analogy with his players, is not ready to push the panic button just yet.
“We got out of intensive care and wanted to take them to the beach right away, but when you encounter a strong gust, you go right back,” Cabrera told reporters ahead of Sunday’s road match against the Colorado Rapids (3 pm ET, UniMas).
“Still, we don’t have to accelerate the process. The players know we’re improving and there have been good changes in mentality, atmosphere and quality. We have to go slowly. We know we can’t lunge.”
The constant shuffle in the midfield has been a problem through the first two months of the season. Chivas USA lost rookie midfielder Thomas McNamara (ACL tear) for the season, have had Mauro Rosales (right adductor strain) and Oswaldo Minda (Achilles strain) miss action, seen Agustín Pelletieri and Marco Delgado earn red card suspensions, and given newcomer Leandro Barrera some liberty on the left wing as he adjusts to the league.
There have been some promising moments for the Goats (1-5-3), but inconsistency has overshadowed those.
“Obviously, you would like to build something with the players getting to know each other and getting a rhythm with each other,” Cabrera said. “We’ve lost players because of injury or red card, and those changes mean you have to take time to adjust. That is uncomfortable, but it is part of our job.”
Despite sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with only six points from nine matches, Cabrera doesn’t anticipate any drastic changes.
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And with the coaching staff seemingly looking to build from within, second-year midfielder Carlos Alvarez could prove to be a pivotal piece. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft has been a versatile component this year, playing alongside Pelletieri in more of a holding position when Minda was sidelined, moving into an attacking role when McNamara went down and occupying the right wing last week with Rosales injured.
“We have rhythm, we just haven’t been finishing our chances,” Alvarez told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s coming. We’re pushing together. Even though we’ve had our ups and downs, every team has them. We need to get over the hump and keep pushing.”