In 2011, Chivas USA hung around the playoff picture until late August, when a loss to the Portland Timbers on the road seemed to be the turning point. In the final eight games after that Portland loss, Chivas went 1-5-2, an awful way to end the season, and a stretch that led to Robin Fraser's first season in charge to end on a sour note.
We haven't seen all of 2012 play out, and the tide can certainly turn in the last nine games of the season, but I would argue that Chivas' loss to the LA Galaxy August 12 looks to be the turning point this year. In the four games since that loss, Chivas have gone 0-2-2. Obviously, four games can't be telegraphed into eight, but it is safe to say that Chivas have been in a real slump. Will this trend persist?Again, it remains to be seen how the final nine games of the season play out to know if Chivas will go through another August-October megaslump, but the recent performances indicate it is at least a safe possibility. The future is unknown, but that Galaxy loss seems worse than normal losses. It could be perception, but the parallels with the Portland loss last season are striking: In 2011, Chivas were on the very outside looking in and battling for that final playoff spot with the Timbers. As a result, the game was a real six-pointer, and if Chivas won, their playoff hopes would take a real boost. Instead, they came out flat and could not find a way to get a result, and lost 1-0. Sure, the scoreline wasn't embarrassing, but it seemed like an insurmountable hurdle, and it ultimately was. From there, Chivas weren't technically out of playoff contention until the last couple weeks of the season, but the quest was basically over once the bad results started pouring in.
This season, Chivas and the Galaxy met in the final SuperClasico with several matters on the line. Besides bragging rights and the season series, Chivas were hoping to close the gap in the playoff standings with the Galaxy, who were sitting in the final playoff spot right above the Goats. But they got blown away 4-0, and the demoralizing effects seem to have cast a pall over the team since then. The best part of the team, the defense, has been absolutely hapless since then, and Chivas haven't been close to getting a win since the SuperClasico loss. I don't know, seems an awful lot like deja vu to me.
Then again, the fact is that on a statistical level, no result counts for more than any other, and if Chivas had simply won a string of games after either loss, those games would not have seemed pivotal. It is admittedly anecdotal, but the feeling that a crucial loss in August tipped the season seems to be a repeating narrative. We've gone from having real hope this team has made positive changes to believing they can't do much of anything right. The good news is that this team has nine more games to change the narrative of the season again. Can they actually manage to make it positive? That's going to be an interesting storyline to follow from here on out.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!