Chivas USA have yet another opportunity to break their losing streak midweek with a match Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7 p.m. PDT, KDOC). It will be the first-ever visit for Chivas to BC Place, and they are still looking for their first-ever win against the Whitecaps, after earning three draws and a loss so far in the all-time series. Both teams are struggling at the moment, although Chivas are stuck in the bottom of the Western Conference, while Vancouver is clinging to the final playoff spot. Will this be a barnburner? Ok, probably not, but we can all hope, can't we?
To get you ready for tonight's game, let's preview:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 28 points (7-16-7), 9th place in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -28 (21/49); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-L
Vancouver Whitecaps: 39 points (10-12-9), 5th place in Western Conference, 12th place overall; Goal Difference: -9 (31/40); Last five matches: L-L-L-D-D
Key Match-up: Chivas defense vs. Vancouver attack
First, it is important to note the status of Whitecaps rookie forward Darren Mattocks. He injured his hamstring in Saturday's match against the Seattle Sounders, and while initial expectations were that he was definitely out, his current status in the injury report is questionable. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's held out to continue rehabbing even if he could go today, since hamstring injuries are so hard to play through. Still, there's a chance he'll be in this game, and if he is, he will certainly become the Caps' most important offensive weapon.
Still, regardless of Mattocks' status, Chivas have an interesting opportunity in this match. Not to take anything away from Vancouver, but while Chivas is by far the most futile attack in the league, Vancouver is tied for second-worst in goals scored, at 31. At the start of the year, it appeared that Vancouver would have a great attack and a suspect defense, but its turned out to be the other way around. Sebastien Le Toux and Eric Hassli have been traded away, and their leading scorer after Mattocks is Camilo, who has four goals this season, which is equal to Chivas' leading scorer, Juan Pablo Angel.
If Chivas can do the unthinkable and get a clean sheet, and if they can do the even-more-unthinkable and score a goal finally, it could happen. But the first step to getting a result has to be trying as hard to put in a good defensive effort as possible. The attack has been atrocious, yes, but if Chivas let in three or more goals, the game will be over immediately and Chivas will break some dubious club records.
Why Chivas will win this match: See above. This is not an easy match, and Chivas could really have another horrible game. But they have to see that they have an opportunity against a team that has been struggling as well. Vancouver is on a seven game winless streak, with only two points in that span. Chivas is on a 10 game winless streak, with only two points in that span. Yeah, Chivas' streak is still worse, but Vancouver is reeling too. The hope is so very faint at this point, but there is a tiny sliver.
Why Vancouver will win this match: See above. If Chivas think they have a shot to turn their fortunes around, Vancouver has to feel that to a much greater extent. They are, after all, actually in the playoff chase, and they'll want to put some distance on FC Dallas. Dallas is two points behind the Whitecaps, and they have two matches against Chivas coming up. Basically, Vancouver and Dallas are currently marking those three meetings with Chivas as wins. It is up to Chivas to prove them wrong.
Why this game will end in a draw: It is a midweek game with two teams that haven't won in a long time. Sounds like a draw to me. The only thing that makes that unlikely is both teams' propensity to lose, and that's not possible. So a draw is a solid bet.
Chivas: Ryan Smith (concussion), Tim Melia (back - listed as doubtful), Jorge Villafana (calf - listed as probable), Ben Zemanski (ankle - listed as probable)
Vancouver: John Thorrington (hamstring), Darren Mattocks (hamstring - listed as questionable)