For 39 minutes on Friday, Chivas USA stood toe-to-toe with defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City.
But in the 40th minute, Dom Dwyer opened the floodgates with his 19th goal of the season, and Sporting scored three more in a commanding 4-0 win over Chivas at StubHub Center.
Though Chivas worked hard to stay compact and defend as a team before the first goal, they could not keep up with SKC's trademark pressing style and mistakes gradually piled up as the game wore on. Despite the result, and despite the teams' opposing positions in the standings, there was hope Chivas could have gotten a result from the game, as both teams entered the game on identical four-game losing streaks.
For Chivas coach Wilmer Cabrera, the loss was "frustrating."
"We were facing Sporting Kansas City who was coming from four games losing, the same situation as us," Cabrera told reporters following the game. "So I said to the guys [before the game], ‘Right now it is who has better mentality, who has better strength mentally, and who wants it more.’
"Definitely they showed that they have a better mentality than us."
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said he felt prepared entering the game, but echoed his coach's words.
“We need to find a way to be able to work us back into games if things go wrong," the current captain told reporters. "I definitely think that’s something we can improve on. I think we can also improve in not getting that first goal.”
The loss extends Chivas' current losing streak to five and their winless streak to 10. And the problems have come on both sides of the ball, as they have allowed 24 goals in that 10-game stretch, and scored just three.
Though it may appear that time is running out for the team turn the season around, hope was not completely extinguished.
Cabrera mentioned the possibility of giving more playing time to younger players on the roster during the final stretch of the season. Beyond that, the players themselves are motivated to end the season on a positive note.
“The effort is always there for every match," midfielder Marvin Chavez said. "...We’re in a tough spot right now, but the important thing is that we have honorable men in this locker room and we are going to turn it around.
"It’s about continuing to work and continuing to persevere, above all. There are players in here with long track-records who are hungry to turn this club around.”
Kennedy shared a similar sentiment, looking ahead to the team's next game, Sept. 21 against Toronto FC.
“Plenty to play for. Now we get a little bit of a break with this Friday night game, and we gotta come back and put in a good effort and prepare," he said.
"With six games left now, it’s important that we find a way to get something out of them. We are fighting for everything here.”