Wednesday is judgment day. Chivas USA take on DC United at RFK Stadium (4:30 pm PST, Direct Kick/Matchday Live). It is the point of no return for the Goats. If they win this match, they still have a slight hope of making the playoffs, but if they lose, those hopes disappear entirely. This will be a tall order, no doubt, as the first meeting between these teams was way back on September 9, when DC crushed Chivas 3-0 on a Charlie Davies hat trick. With less than two weeks between the meetings and DC in the midst of their own playoff push, Chivas will surely be climbing uphill in this match. But crazier things have happened, and one can't know for sure until the game is actually played.
With the season, and the Goats' pride on the line, let's get you ready for the match. Can Chivas manage a season split with United?
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 31 points (7-12-10); 7th place in Western Conference, 13th place overall; Goal difference: -2 (34/36); Last 5 matches: T-L-L-L-LDC United: 34 points (8-8-10); 6th place in Eastern Conference, 12th place overall; Goal difference: -1 (37/38); Last 5 matches: W-T-L-W-L
Key Matchup: Chivas defense vs. DC forwards
The reason I'm not naming the players on each side is because of the speculative nature of each lineup. With the injury and suspension problems on Chivas backline and the rotation of DC's forwards this season, along with it being a midweek game on short rest for both clubs, it is tough to say who will feature, although you would expect Davies to be starting again after his performance in the last meeting. The key for Chivas is to have a stout defensive performance with no early goals given up. It is obvious, but if Chivas give up an early goal, they end up with a nearly insurmountable lead, at least as far as their scoring record lately indicates. But a bigger issue is that if Chivas give up an early goal they typically give up two early goals. It has happened in the last two games, and it is a trend that needs to end now, especially if Chivas want to turn the slide around.
For DC, they need to continue to do what they did in the last match against Chivas. Coming off a loss to Seattle this past Saturday, they too need a victory to keep pace, but with Chris Pontius out they will have to find a new conduit to link up to the forwards. Unfortunately for United, Pontius broke his leg against Chivas on a 50/50 collision with David Junior Lopes, who was somewhat unfairly given a straight red card as a result. Pontius was having a fantastic season up to that point, and had assisted on all three of Davies' goals in the September 9 match. Obviously, DC doesn't lack for firepower, especially with Dwayne De Rosario in central midfield. But if Chivas want to win, they need to stop DC from scoring.
Why Chivas will win this match: I'll keep this short. This is a must-win game like Chivas have not had all season. They are on a four-game losing streak, and if the slide continues, the season will be over for the Goats with another four games left on the schedule. They have lost their mojo, but the two goal outburst in the Chicago game gave the team life, if only for a short time. With Juan Pablo Angel and Nick LaBrocca getting goals, perhaps they will have more confidence and continue scoring for the team. I wouldn't be surprised if Robin Fraser loads the lineup with forwards, as he did in the last match, with JPA, Alejandro Moreno, Justin Braun and Marcos Mondaini all getting the start. Obviously, except for LaBrocca the rest of the squad will be tasked with defending, which will obviously be a tall task, but like the Chicago game, Chivas need to go all out. Can they reverse the dynamic and score some quick goals on DC at their stadium? The will be the strategy the team will need to take if they want three points.
Why DC will win this match: Despite losing their last match, DC is in a much better run of form than Chivas of late. And getting the upper hand less than two weeks ago against the Goats will give them a great deal of confidence, obviously. The odds are good that DC will get the win here, and they are under considerable pressure as well to get into the playoffs at the moment. But with a three-point advantage over Chivas they have some momentum working in their favor and will likely not take the game lightly. Both teams are in desperation mode, but DC is in much better shape, and are more likely to prevail in this match.
Why this game will end in a draw: This would be a blow to both sides, so it will probably be the likely and unsatisfying result. If Chivas get a draw, they could still possibly get in the playoffs if they won the last four matches, but for all intents and purposes their miniscule chances would then become infinitesimal. But as ever, one point would be better than none. The same would be true for DC, in that a draw would be better than a loss, and would help get them to the playoffs. I think this game is going to be pretty open, but if it gets bogged down in the midfield, a draw certainly wouldn't be a surprise.
Chivas USA: Paulo Nagamura (foot), Heath Pearce (hamstring, listed as questionable)
DC United: Branko Boskovic (ACL), Chris Pontius (leg), Steve Cronin (shoulder, listed as questionable), Bill Hamid (hamstring, listed as probable)