Perhaps the best news this week for Chivas USA is that they have a midweek game, so that the hangover of the loss last weekend can perhaps be overcome faster. The Goats travel to the Eastern Seaboard to take on the New England Revolution (5 pm PDT, Prime Ticket). Although both teams had hopes of a playoff appearance in 2012, and the chance of that is dimming by the match, there is still time in the season to turn the form around. Both teams have struggled lately, and both will like their chances in this match. How will it turn out? We'll find out tonight, but first, let's preview the game!
If you missed it, be sure to take a look at the Three Questions feature with Steve Stoehr from Tuesday.
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 27 points (7-10-6), 7th place in Western Conference, 14th place overall; Goal Difference: -15 (17/32); Last five matches: L-W-L-D-L
New England Revolution: 23 points (6-14-5), 9th place in Eastern Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -5 (30/35); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-LKey Match-up: Chivas defense vs. Revs attack
Normally, the concern heading into a Chivas USA match is whether the attack will show up in any capacity or not. Make no mistake, despite the outburst against Seattle, the attack is still a concern. But a more pressing concern is whether the Goats can stop the recent bleeding on the defensive end. They've given up eleven goals in their last three games, and a once-promising season hangs in the balance. If Chivas can get back on track and hold New England scoreless or to only one goal, then they can gain some self-respect heading into another stretch of tough games. But if the defense is flat and ships goals again, then we can essentially call time on 2012. Don't get me wrong - I'm not taking the Revs lightly, and they have shown they can be exciting in attack. But they are on a very bad run of form, and Chivas need to take advantage of an opponent that is reeling more than them at the moment.
It's also worth wondering who will actually start in defense and defensive midfield for Chivas. Will Oswaldo Minda and Danny Califf be back in the lineup? Can we assume Shalrie Joseph will be starting, considering the opponent and location? Will Ante Jazic be back in the lineup, or will Jorge Villafana give him a breather? Needless to say, there are a lot of questions about the lineup heading into this match. Regardless, whoever plays in defense will need to be fully up to the task against the Revs.
Why Chivas will win this match: As I've already written this week, all of the games at this point are must-win games for Chivas. On one hand, that's disappointing, because they haven't performed well enough to be in the playoff spots, but it does mean there's at least a little hope alive. Frankly speaking, if Chivas can't win this one, the playoffs are all but out of reach. What's promising is that Chivas' youthful attack played well against Seattle, and I think Tristan Bowen, Juan Agudelo, Casey Townsend and Miller Bolanos deserve another start to show if they have consistent chemistry in the offensive third. If the defense can get back on track and neutralize Lee Nguyen (if he features), Benny Feilhaber, Jerry Bengtson, and Saer Sene, among others, then Chivas should have the tools in place to get three points. And don't forget, the Goats have performed better on the road this season, and have won both of their matches so far this season on field turf (against Portland). Does that bode well for them? Why not? This team needs to get back some pride, and they've shown (inconsistently) that they can get the job done.
Why New England will win this match: The losing streak has to end at some point, right? Chivas have confidence they can beat the Revs, but Chivas haven't been particularly better of late. Sure, New England has sunk to second-last in the league standings, but they are only four points behind the Goats and a win or two could really invigorate the team and fanbase. Certainly, their attack can be quite explosive, and at times this season the defense has been able to put it together and perform well as a group. And with Joseph returning to his old team for the first time, I'm sure the Revs will want to show that they can perform in the post-Shalrie era of the club. They won't be short of motivation in this match, let's just put it that way.
Why this match will end in a draw: Oh, please no. If nothing else, let's hope that one team emerges happy from this game. Of course, I hope that Chivas are the team that emerge happy, as a loss will be crushing for either side. But a draw is going to be a real disappointment. Sure, the circumstances can come together like in the recent Colorado draw where Chivas pulled out a draw from a loss, and that can be a big accomplishment. But a draw will be such a blah result in the grand scheme of things. Both teams need to go all out and get a win, one way or the other.
Chivas: Peter Vagenas (hamstring), Ryan Smith (hamstring - listed as doubtful), Marvin Iraheta (knee - listed as probable)
New England: Sainey Nyassi (adductor), Bobby Shuttleworth (knee), Blair Gavin (hamstring - listed as doubtful), Lee Nguyen (ankle - listed as probable)