CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA figure to roll out a new lineup this weekend and, for once, it might be welcome news.
The Rojiblancos were not only missing captain Carlos Bocanegra (concussion) last week in a 3-0 road loss to the Colorado Rapids, but also fielded two other defenders who had only three starts between them. On top of that, important contributors Marvin Chavez, Oswaldo Minda and Mauro Rosales, the leading assist man, were missing from the midfield.
Two blowout losses soured what Chivas USA accomplished in the month of July, but with players rested following a nine-day break between games, they are optimistic heading into Sunday’s matchup against streaking FC Dallas at StubHub Center (10 pm ET, MLS Live).
“Our goal for this week is to recover those guys coming from injury, get some fresh legs and be ready to face a very good team within our conference,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera told the club’s site.
The Goats had gotten in a rhythm, playing their best soccer of the year to catapult themselves into playoff contention with a four-game winning streak following the World Cup break. Yet nicks and bruises got in the way and they now head into the weekend sitting in eighth place, seven points behind fifth-place Dallas.
“That’s just part of the game,” defender Tony Lochhead told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s a long season and people are going to get injuries. It’s a depth thing and about adjusting as best you can. That’s the nature of the beast. Hopefully you don’t get any injuries and everyone plays all the games, but that’s not going to be the case. You’re going to have your ups and downs, and hopefully we can bounce back as best as possible.”
Chivas USA put together three consecutive shutouts during their hot stretch, but closed the month of July by allowing seven goals in their last three matches. More trouble could be on the horizon with a potent Dallas attack rolling into town.
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“They have a lot of pace out on the wings,” Lochhead said. “[Blas] Pérez in the middle is a great finisher who is on a bit of a hot streak. We have to make sure we shut him down and be aware of their pace on the wings.”
Despite keeping clean sheets in their previous two home games, the Goats have a minus-9 goal differential at StubHub Center -- a statistic that players know has to change in the coming months.
“We’ve got to come out strong and we’ve got to finish strong,” defender Donny Toia told MLSsoccer.com. “You’ve got to have the mentality to be strong the entire game. Sometimes we come out strong and finish softly, or vice versa, but we’ve got to be solid the full 90 minutes.”