Chivas USA have been off for more than two weeks, as they got a bizarre double bye week in the final month of the season. You may have thought the team was done for the season, since they certainly aren't making the playoffs. But no, they have two more games, and these come in the span of less than a week. Again, strange scheduling to end the season.
But is there a point in playing these final two games for the Goats? Obviously they have to see the season out for competitive reasons, and there is of course the chance they could get a result in either or both of those matches (although let's be real, they are major underdogs in both games). Still, while racking my brain I found scant few reasons why these games really mean anything for Chivas USA in 2013.
First and foremost, there's the question of the future of the team, even if we are just talking in an on-field capacity. Will Jose Luis Real be back? There's really no indication at this point, although speculation is that Real would like to get back to Mexico after taking over Chivas USA midseason. If there is to be yet another coaching change, that means that lineup decisions and tactical work implemented by Güero will almost certainly not carry over to the next boss.
And with that, the future of so many of the players is in doubt. On one hand, having some flexibility is a good thing, considering the terrible record the team has amassed this season (although to be fair, there's been massive roster churn during the season, which didn't help a great deal of the time). But while most teams would opt to play youngsters at this point in the campaign, in order to give them some minutes in competitive games, what's the point for Chivas? Only homegrown signing Caleb Calvert, who has battled a foot injury since being signed in the summer, remains on the roster and has failed to play a minute for the first team this season. As a homegrown player, he is presumably in the club's plans for the long haul (though again, who knows which way the wind will blow with this club). But all the rest of the roster, filled with players who previously had zero MLS experience, have played this season, so giving minutes to reserves doesn't make sense.
Consider also that Chivas have been blown out in two of their last three games, and even playing a "strong" lineup that has no real motivation at this stage in the season may lead to lopsided results at the hands of the top two teams in the Western Conference standings at the moment, Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers. Of course, if they win or draw, fantastic! But a dispirited and unmotivated team, at the bottom of the standings, coming off a massive bye? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, honestly.
Ok, so after all this doom and gloom, I did find one possible accomplishment to watch for in these last two matches. Dan Kennedy is second in saves for the season, with 104 to Troy Perkins' 105. Kennedy has two games to surpass Perkins (Montreal only has one game left), and if he and his defense can manage to keep the games against RSL and the Timbers competitive, he should be able to notch enough saves to surpass Perkins and take the season title.
Although it would be great if Kennedy could be in the reckoning for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year again, Chivas poor record over the vast majority of the season has probably put a major dent in his award aspirations. If he can lead the league in saves, he may get some consideration yet, and at the very least, he'll have another accomplishment on his resume. So if nothing else, let's root for something positive to see out the season, and root for DK to take the saves title in 2013.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!