Following a road loss to FC Dallas, Chivas USA travel all the way across the country to face the New England Revolution (4:30 pm PST, Direct Kick/Matchday Live). This match will finish the season series between the clubs, and Chivas are going for the sweep as they defeated the Revs 3-0 on April 30. It was a dominant performance, and the Goats will seek to get the full three points. The win will ensure Chivas keep pace in the playoff hunt, which has gotten tighter this week with wins from DC United, Houston Dynamo, and the Portland Timbers. Meanwhile, for the Revolution, this match represents a chance to build a better run of form and possibly turn a disappointing season around.
To get a sense of the New England perspective, check out yesterday's Three Questions article.
Getting ready for the game? Let's set you up.Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 26 points (6-8-8); 6th in Western Conference, 11th place overall; Goal difference: 3 (27/24); Last 5 games: W-T-T-W-L
New England Revolution: 21 points (4-9-9); 7th in Eastern Conference, 15th place overall; Goal difference: -10 (20/30); Last 5 games: T-L-W-T-T
Key Matchup: Chivas midfield vs. Revs midfield
Neither of these teams are particularly solid at finishing their chances on goal, and counterattacks are not a likely option for either side. As simplistic as it sounds, the team that maintains possession will have the better chance at victory. This was certainly true in the last game between these teams, as Chivas thoroughly controlled the ball and gave New England precious few chances. The personnel for both clubs is mostly the same from the last meeting, and Chivas seem to have a more talented squad and perhaps more importantly, a team that is confident. With that said, I think Chivas has a deeper squad than at the last meeting, and I have a feeling Blair Gavin could play a pivotal role in the game. We know with the plaudits given to Nick LaBrocca a spotlight has been shined his way, and that means opponents are paying more attention to him. Coming into the season, Gavin was considered the most creative midfielder on the team, and he's now starting to get into full fitness, which is good news for the Goats. I don't think it really matters if LaBrocca or Gavin is the most effective creative midfielder, as long as Chivas are scoring, and I think Gavin could pull some strings in this game.
Obviously, the other reason Chivas midfield will be closely watched against New England is because it will provide us with the first chance to see the new Goat, Laurent Courtois. Since he just started training, he is not expected to start against the Revs, but I expect to see him at some point in the game. This means that he probably won't start scoring right away (although if he does, no complaints) as he gets into game shape, but it will be interesting to see if he can make an impact even in limited minutes.
Why Chivas will win this match: They are focused, and have been playing well lately despite last weekend's loss. They have bought into Robin Fraser's system and are playing as a team, while the Revs are reportedly demoralized and disjointed on and off the field. Chivas won the last meeting, and are only two weeks removed from routing another team, Houston. They play pretty well on the road, and would relish another road win. The Goats know three points are really essential in order to stay in the playoff chase, and this will represent a test where they need to win a game in which they are favored, an unusual position for them.
Why New England will win this match: Few people believe they are capable of winning any games, but they are not without any spark or talent. Players of evident quality like Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber could use some more talented players around them, but they are still frequently a step above the very worst teams in the league. They are also flying under the radar a little, as they have only lost one game in their last five, so they may be pulling through the worst of their season and into a better run of form. Plus, if Chivas take them too lightly, the Revs are certainly capable of punishing them, and that would make it a "trap game" (if trap games were real and if Chivas are actually good enough to have trap games, of course). And despite the confidence Chivas have, they are not world-beaters and New England may see this game the same way as the Goats: an attainable three points.
Why this game will end in a draw: Why not? Both teams are introducing new players (Courtois for Chivas, Milton Benaglio for New England) and either or both players may provide a spark for their team. Their arrivals may inspire their teammates (and rivals for lineup spots) to raise their game, and may result in a more even match than it may appear. They are nearly equal in the number of draws they've racked up this season (9 to 8), and a point would be preferred by both sides to no points. For Chivas, it would be a road point, which would give them four points in the season series, while a point can help the Revs claw their way back from the dead. I know I usually consider a draw most likely, but I'm not feeling it in this game (of course, that means a draw is assured, just wait).
Chivas: Jimmy Conrad (concussion)
New England: A.J. Soares (Red card suspension), Franco Coria (knee), Kheli Dube (whiplash), Alan Koger (heel), Rajko Lekic (toe), Stephen McCarthy (shoulder, listed as questionable), Pat Phelan (hip, listed as questionable)