Chivas USA finally won a game, and now they need to see if they can get more points, as they face the Seattle Sounders Sunday evening up in the Pacific Northwest (8 pm PT, Univision Deportes/MLS Live). The Sounders are coming off a draw to a resurgent Colorado Rapids side, and it's safe to say their self esteem fluctuates more than your average 15-year-old's right now. Still, the Sounders have had their way with Chivas in recent seasons, and the visitors have never won on the Sounders' home ground. Can they break their streak? We'll find out this evening!
If you missed it, be sure to take a look at the Three Questions feature with Dave Clark from Saturday.
On to the preview:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 17 points (4-11-5), 9th place in Western Conference, 17th place overall; Goal Difference: -17 (18/35); Last five matches: W-L-D-D-D
Seattle Sounders: 25 points (7-7-4), 8th place in Western Conference, 15th place overall; Goal Difference: 1 (22/21); Last five matches: D-L-L-W-L
Key match-up: Chivas defense vs. Sounders attack
Yeah, back to boring-yet-important. Seattle beat Chivas 2-0 last time these teams played, one off a horrible own goal and one from Sounders DP Obafemi Martins. Compared to the ways in which they were spanked by Seattle last year, that result wasn't as embarrassing as we've seen, but defense is still going to be the most important focus for Chivas ahead of the match. Fortunately, Eddie Johnson will be out as he's with the USMNT for the Gold Cup final, but Martins and Lamar Neagle have 10 goals between them this season. In fact, you'll notice that Seattle hasn't scored many more goals than Chivas this year, although they have played two fewer games than Chivas to this point. Still, unlike the Goats, Seattle has players who can be counted on to score, at least more often, and Chivas will face a much stiffer test than they did last time out against Toronto FC.
Why Chivas will win this match: As I frequently say, a streak has to end at some point, right? Seattle is one of the most confounding teams in MLS this year, because they seemingly have much more talent than their record indicates. They have been plagued by injuries and international call-ups this season, which has certainly hurt their record, but it's hard to know if this team is about to break out or if they are suffering from such a bad run that their confidence has taken a fatal blow. If it's the latter, then there's no reason why Chivas can't beat them, provided they are at their best and not rusty from not playing last weekend. That said, Seattle is a talented team and Chivas will need to play very well if they want to get a win. It won't be easy, but if the confidence can continue to increase, and if they find the Sounders are out of sorts once more, Chivas can get three points.
Why Seattle will win this match: There are three main factors playing in their favor: they are at home, they are more talented overall than Chivas, and they've never lost to the Goats at home. Although the Sounders are just one spot ahead of Chivas in the West, they have recorded three more wins (again, in two fewer games). Both teams are a work in progress at this point in the campaign, but Seattle's core has remained intact far longer, and they know they are heavy favorites in this game. I think that experiential advantage is critical, as it can help the Sounders weather storms much better than a new group of largely inexperienced players and coaches (in MLS) like Chivas. Given the scoring difficulties for both teams this year, I think it could be another close match, but one can't discount the chance Seattle will try to hang three, four, or more goals on Chivas to bring up their confidence.
Why this match will end in a draw: Chivas may not have had the better of the Sounders, but they have drawn them a few times in between all the losses, and if we balance out Chivas' good qualities and Seattle's bad qualities, it isn't out of the realm of possibility. Especially with Chivas likely to sit back and try and absorb the Sounders' attacking pressure, if they can withstand it, then a deadlock might be in the cards. Against this opponent, I don't think a draw would be a terrible result for Chivas.
Chivas: Eric Avila (red card suspension), Daniel Antunez (knee), Bobby Burling (concussion), Caleb Calvert (foot), Tim Melia (back), Jose Correa (quad - listed as questionable), Oswaldo Minda (adductor - listed as questionable)
Seattle: Eddie Johnson (international duty), Alex Caskey (ankle), Michael Gspurning (arm), Marcus Hahnemann (hamstring), Shalrie Joseph (calf), Steve Zakuani (sports hernia), Andy Rose (hamstring - listed as questionable), Djimi Traore (hamstring - listed as questionable)