Another week, another game, and this time, Chivas USA will be facing the New England Revolution at home (7:30 pm PT, MLS Live/tickets definitely available). Both teams are coming off losses, with the Goats losing to the LA Galaxy 1-0 last week, and the Revs losing 3-1 to D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Wednesday. Despite that, and a wild 4-3 loss to Vancouver in their last league match, it is safe to say that New England is in much better form than Chivas at the moment (although to be fair, literally every team in the league is in better form than Chivas right now). Will these teams revert to form, or can the Goats finally get another result in 2013?
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions exchange with The Bent Musket from yesterday.
And now, let's preview the match!
Tale of the tape:
Chivas USA: 11 points (3-10-2), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -16 (14/30); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-L
New England Revolution: 20 points (5-5-5), 7th in Western Conference, 13th place overall; Goal Difference: 5 (18/13); Last five matches: L-D-W-W-W
Key Match-up: Chivas defense vs. Revolution attack
If it's broke, ya gotta keep trying to fix it, right? Chivas got down to "only" conceding one goal last game, which for them is progress, and it's worth noting that New England has the best defense statistically in the league. Essentially, if Chivas concede a goal in this game, their chance of getting even a point is likely gone, unless the attack undergoes some remarkable renaissance. If the Goats give up two goals, then a loss is essentially guaranteed. The Revs started the season out very slowly on the attacking end, but the return of Saer Sene from injury, plus the attacking tandem of Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo have ignited the scoring, and while they may not be a juggernaut every game, they are scoring at a pretty steady pace now, much of that owing to Agudelo's insertion in the Revs' lineup.
I hate to be a downer, but Chivas' best game plan in this one may be to bunker and try to gut out a scoreless draw, or keep a clean sheet and seek to grab one on a set piece or counter. That's bland soccer, but the truth is there literally aren't the attacking weapons to try to initiate a shootout on the team, so they need to see if they can manage some results before (fingers crossed) finding some legitimate reinforcements in the transfer window. Is that a pipe dream? Possibly, although I'd be happy for even a measly point right now. I'm that desperate for any positive accomplishments on the field.
Why Chivas will win this match: Historically, Chivas have been quite good against New England, especially at home, so that could count for something. They have also looked better in each of the last two games, with Jose Luis Real at the helm of the team, and if they continue to improve, there has to be a reasonable expectation they'll get a win at some point. Plus, despite the much-improved form of the Revolution, they are still a pretty young team in MLS, and with the two game skid of late, they may be in a bit of a rough patch themselves. New England is the favorite in this game, despite it being cross-country and the historical record, but if Chivas can finally keep a clean sheet and score a goal, then that's all you need to do to get three points. Is it likely? Probably not yet, but certainly possible.
Why New England will win this match: It has to come back to their defense. If Chivas struggle to score against every opponent, then how do you figure they'll fare against the best defense? It's going to be rough sailing, and with the Goats less-than-adept at hanging onto possession most games, New England will get plenty of time on the ball and chances. In addition to the forwards, midfielders Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen are setting up goals well, and occasional contributions from less-integral players like Ryan Guy can't be overlooked. Simply put, all they need to do is keep a clean sheet and score a goal, two at the most. For Chivas, that task is theoretical, but for the Revs, it is realistic. And if they really want to make a step up and be a playoff team this year, they'll need to win games like this.
Why this match will end in a draw: Hmm...I'm feeling a draw on this one. Defense is going to be the priority for both sides, meaning it could be a tepid game, and if Chivas can manage to stay in the game for 90 minutes, I could certainly see a 0-0 or 1-1 result. Of course, if Agudelo scores two goals, as I think is likely, then forget about a draw. But Chivas have only two ties on the year, and a third seems likely in their immediate future.
Chivas: Oswaldo Minda (adductor), Daniel Antunez (knee), Steve Purdy (international duty), Julio Morales (international duty), Tim Melia (back), Edgar Mejia (ankle - listed as questionable), Martin Ponce (hamstring - listed as questionable)
New England: Andrew Farrell (suspended), Kevin Alston (cancer), Clyde Simms (knee), Juan Toja (back - listed as questionable)