Tired legs were the hot topic last weekend when Chivas USA saw their hot streak come to a close, as head coach Wilmer Cabrera cited a heavy travel schedule and high volume of games as a reason for the poor showing at D.C. United.
On Friday night, the Rojiblancos were flat-out shorthanded.
A patchwork back line was victimized early and Chivas USA fell 3-0 to the Colorado Rapids, closing an otherwise successful month on a low note.
"We were a bit too spread out and weren't organized maybe as well as we should have been," center back Eriq Zavaleta told reporters at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. "You can make excuses about altitude, travel and things like that all you want, but we didn't play well enough. We made mistakes that we've made continually throughout the year. They are things we need to fix if we want to make a playoff push."
Without the services of captain Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Chivas USA fielded a never-before-seen combination of defenders that included recent acquisition Akira Kaji, who made his first MLS start, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who made his first start since April.
Bocanegra suffered a concussion last Sunday in a 3-1 loss, and his absence was noticeable. Zavaleta, Jean-Baptiste and Kaji were each exposed, in that order, by a Colorado side that won their first game since late June.
"These opportunities are few for some young guys that want to play," Cabrera told reporters. "We had some injured guys -- Carlos was injured, Bobby [Burling] is still injured and Marvin [Chavez] had a little problem. Some guys are tired because they've been carrying a heavy load and we needed some young guys to step up, some fresh legs to step up."
The Goats never responded.
Their offense was as stagnant as it has been in weeks; Friday marked the first goal-less showing since late May. The seemingly automatic Erick "Cubo" Torres saw his six-game scoring streak end on a night when Chivas USA had only one on-target shot.
The Goats were unable to come away with a second road victory against Colorado, where Cabrera spent the previous two seasons as an assistant. They had beaten the Rapids 3-1 just two months prior.
"We didn't have good control of the ball," Cabrera said. "And then when we had control and we had possibilities to attack, the last pass or cross wasn't clear."
After kicking off the month of July with two consecutive shutouts, Chivas USA closed poorly, allowing a total of seven goals over three games.
"We played badly and the opponent was superior," midfielder Augstín Pelletieri said. "We have to improve a lot if we want to keep getting better."