So Chivas USA has struggled in recent weeks/months, but they get yet another chance to right the ship Saturday, this time against the Colorado Rapids (6 pm PT, MLS Live). These teams met just last month, with Colorado getting a 1-0 victory because they were able to make a penalty and Chivas were not. That match began a six-game winless streak that persists to the present, with only one point earned in that span. Things are looking pretty bad around Chivatown right now, so can the Goats pick themselves up and get a result in the Rockies?
Before we find out, let's preview the match!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 11 points (3-6-2), 9th in Western Conference, 16th place overall; Goal Difference: -9 (13/22); Last five matches: L-L-L-D-L
Colorado Rapids: 16 points (4-4-4), 5th in Western Conference, 10th place overall; Goal Difference: 1 (11/10); Last five matches: D-W-W-D-L
Key Match-up: Chivas defense vs. Colorado's offense
It's not hard to pick a key in this game, when the defense has allowed 11 goals over the last three matches. Colorado hasn't had any goal explosions yet this season, as they sit fourth-worst in team goals, but given the sieve-like nature of Chivas' defense lately, the Rapids could be primed for a breakout. Although the attack has struggled nearly as much as the defense during the winless skid, the defensive performances the past few games have been embarrassing, frankly. Chelís claims he's sticking with his 3-man back line, and if he is, then hopefully the players back there will be up to the test, and hopefully the midfield will be able to support the defense competently. One possible boost? Chivas USA released a story Friday that Oswaldo Minda could see action against the Rapids. If true, he could play a big role in solidifying Chivas' defense, since his absences have largely coincided with the Goats' sustained slides the past couple of seasons.
Still, with Real Salt Lake providing a textbook example of how to school Chivas' defense last week, the blueprint is clear for Colorado. Have players make secondary runs to beat the high offside trap, then blaze by the slow defenders with superior speed, and beating Dan Kennedy should be a breeze. The scorer in Colorado's win over Chivas earlier this year, DeShorn Brown, has speed to burn and he and Atiba Harris should have multiple opportunities, especially if Chelís makes no real adjustments defensively. We'll have to see if Chivas can fix their problems or not in the back, starting with this match.
Why Chivas will win this match: Despite losing to the Rapids once this year, Chivas only lost 1-0 and would have tied if not for a terrible penalty miss, despite not playing a great game. I think Colorado is better than people are giving them credit for, but I don't think they are among the best teams in the league. If Chivas can get going (I'm sounding like a broken record at this point, but it is a fair point) they can certainly beat the Rapids. It's just a matter of truly showing up. On the bright side, if Minda's back and in decent shape, and if the attack improve upon the better showing last week, with Jose Correa looking as good as he has this year, and Miller Bolanos getting back into the mix, then the Goats can certainly make a real go of it. And can Chelís put a wrinkle in his game plan that can catch Colorado off guard? If he can, maybe Chivas can finally stop this slide.
Why Colorado will win this match: They are in far better form than Chivas, of course, and they've rocketed past the Goats in the standings. The game is at home, and the vaunted advantage of the altitude can't be overlooked. Perhaps most notably, Colorado stacks up well against Chivas throughout the lineup and they have confidence. They are the overwhelming favorites in this game, and their turnaround, from being considered non-starters in March to currently sitting in the playoff slots, despite massive injury issues, is beyond impressive. Essentially, they have become steady, something Chivas have not been able to accomplish more than four games this season. If they can play at a good level, and if Chivas struggle again, this could be another win, and perhaps a routine one at that.
Why this match will end in a draw: They should have tied last time, if Jose Correa had been able to keep his PK on frame. Both teams have gotten multiple red cards this season, so that can always lead to an ugly game and a stalemate. And if they find an equilibrium and play at a similar level, a draw certainly seems possible. I'd say I'm not feeling it for this game, but you never know.
Chivas USA: Mario de Luna (suspension), Tristan Bowen (hamstring), Daniel Antunez (knee), Tim Melia (back), Oswaldo Minda (quad - listed as questionable), Joaquin Velazquez (adductor - listed as questionable)
Colorado: Shane O'Neill (suspension), Diego Calderon (knee), Matt Pickens (arm), Jaime Castrillon (knee - listed as questionable), Jamie Smith (groin - listed as questionable), Hendry Thomas (hamstring - listed as questionable)