The latest big game is here! Ok, for the foreseeable future, if Chivas want to end the season on a high note, all of the games will be big. This week, the Seattle Sounders are coming to town (Saturday, 7:30 pm PDT, KWHY/Fox Sports West) and both teams will be looking to make a mark with a win. After losing the U.S. Open Cup final a couple of weeks back and then following it up with a late league loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Sounders are in good form and will certainly like their chances against the Goats. For their part, Chivas did earn a 1-1 draw last time they hosted the Sounders, so perhaps they can use that performance, improve it, and get a much-needed win?
If you missed it, take a look at the Three Questions with Dave Clark from yesterday.
Let's get down to the preview:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 27 points (7-9-6), 7th in Western Conference, 14th place overall; Goal Difference: -11 (15/26); Last five matches: W-L-W-L-D
Seattle Sounders: 40 points (11-6-7), 3rd in Western Conference, 8th place overall; Goal Difference: 10 (34/24); Last five matches: D-W-W-L-WKey Match-up: Chivas midfield vs. Seattle midfield
There are many interesting story lines coming into the game, from the new players on both sides (Shalrie Joseph for Chivas, Christian Tiffert and Mario Martinez for Seattle), to the former results this season (1-1 in league, 4-1 to Seattle in USOC), to the strong defenses (Sounders are first, Chivas second in Western Conference in goals allowed) and very different scoring records to this point in the season (Seattle has scored 19 more goals - more than double - than Chivas this season).
But the focus heading into this match should be on the midfields of both sides. On paper, Seattle looks to have a superior midfield, with Osvaldo Alonso handling defensive midfield duties, Tiffert integrating into the squad as the new designated player on the team, and Mauro Rosales playing very well as the designated assist man on the team. Based on recent performances, it seems obvious that Seattle will dominate the midfield, and that could prove significant for Chivas. But while Chivas are apt to let in a ton of goals from game to game, and can't score for love or money, they have shown they can play a sound game and frustrate an opponent that appears to be vastly superior. The service has been poor without good flank play, but Oswaldo Minda has been good, and let's hope Joseph will be over his major mistakes, as the Goats can't afford to give up any at this point. If Chivas can control the midfield, they will have a fantastic shot at getting a win. If they can't, it could be a long night.
Why Chivas will win the match: Chivas need to dig deep and get a couple of huge results, and this is a great opportunity to get a home win against a tough opponent. The last loss to the Sounders was tough, but it seems like the defense is trying to figure out how best to cover up their defensive frailties, and they had success in tactics used by the Colorado Rapids last week that were similar to what Seattle did in the Open Cup semifinal. If Chivas can fix the issues in giving up jailbreak goals or get mixed up when opposing forwards make multiple runs, they can keep the Sounders to zero or one goal. And if they can keep the Sounders under two goals, we all know there's at least some hope that Chivas can get back in the game. At that point, it will be up to the attack to create good chances and keep hammering the Sounders goal until something goes in. It will require a good performance from all 11 players on the field for the entire match. Can Chivas do it? Of course. Will they do it? That remains to be seen.
Why Seattle will win the match: The Sounders are in good form, have a strong roster that apparently keeps getting better, and know they can beat Chivas. It's a situation in which a good team has all the confidence that they can get a result, and it will be up to their opponent to prove them otherwise. It may seem arrogant, but the Sounders are a cut above Chivas at the moment, and they will effectively need to execute their gameplan well if they want the win. Alternately, they only need to score two goals and they will at least guarantee a point, based on Chivas' track record this year. Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero have been on a tear recently, the defense is playing well, and Michael Gspurning is back at goalkeeper after a lengthy absence due to injury. The Sounders want to make a push even higher up the standings, and they'll like their chances heading into this game.
Why this game will end in a draw: The Sounders will probably be ok with a draw, and depending on how the game shakes out, Chivas may also take it. But both teams will be desperate to get a win, for different reasons. Still, they tied last time around at the Home Depot Center, and that game was quite an even match in terms of quality of play. Chivas' form hasn't been as good recently, but they often play well against the Sounders. A draw will be somewhat unsatisfactory, but given the number of draws for both sides this season, it's a distinct possibility.
Chivas: Peter Vagenas (hamstring - listed as doubtful), Ryan Smith (hamstring - listed as doubtful), Marvin Iraheta (knee - listed as probable)
Seattle: David Estrada (foot), Andy Rose (ribs), Andrew Weber (abductor - listed as questionable)