Chivas USA conclude the season series against the Colorado Rapids Sunday at home (8 pm PT, UniMas). The Goats are on a two-game losing streak, while the Rapids are unbeaten in their last seven, including a draw to win their rivalry cup, the Rocky Mountain Cup with Real Salt Lake, for the first time in seven years last week. As seems the pattern right now, it seems like one team is in good shape, the other struggling, and once again, the Goats are the ones going through the struggles. Can they finally get some points in 2013 on Colorado? It's their last chance.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions exchange from Friday with Chris White of Burgundy Wave.
Now, let's preview this match!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 17 points (4-13-5), 9th place in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -20 (19/39); Last five matches: L-L-W-L-D
Colorado Rapids: 35 points (9-7-8), 2nd place in Western Conference, 5th place overall; Goal Difference: 4 (30/26); Last five matches: D-W-D-W-D
Key Match-up: Chivas defense vs. Rapids attack
Yes, this once again, but there are a couple of really solid reasons for putting the pressure on the defense for another game. First, in the last match between these teams, Colorado absolutely ran circles around Chivas on the attacking end, and yet Chivas were somewhat fortunate to only lose 2-0. Deshorn Brown has looked very good in the first two meetings this year, Dillon Powers has also emerged as a force in the midfield, and Nathan Sturgis and Atiba Harris have popped up in some games to torch opposing defenses. They may not have the big names on their team, but they've been effective. Furthermore, with the arrivals of veteran Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres, the club's first-ever DP, the players who make the field for this game will want to impress coach Oscar Pareja to ensure they continue to get minutes.
Meanwhile, Chivas are going to miss Carlos Bocanegra for the first time since his debut, after his red card against San Jose last week. While Bocanegra is not a miracle worker, it can't be denied that the defense is going to take a hit in leadership and quality with him out of the lineup. The club announced that Steve Purdy will start at center back, and that seems like a fair move, as Purdy has looked as good as any of the other options out there, and he's not gotten much playing time. Still, he needs to pay attention to his positioning against the Rapids, as his speed isn't particularly good, and the defense as a whole needs to make sure they work together and deal with the numbers of Colorado attackers who will look to swarm the goal.
Why Chivas will win this match: Colorado's on a hot streak at the moment, but they have had poor games, which is unsurprising considering how young the team is and how many players have featured. Remember, Chivas should have drawn against the Rapids at the very least in their first meeting of the season, if not for Jose Correa's missed penalty, the start of an unfortunate run of poor PKs for the Goats this season. If the attacking players can further build their chemistry with Erick Torres, that could help open up their scoring for the first time since March. I realize that scoring could be a problem for the rest of the season, but there seems to be enough promise in the midfield to pair with Torres that we could see more consistent scoring. But that will only be useful if Chivas take care of business on the defensive end. As with any good performance for this team, they need to play well on both ends of the field if they are to pick up three points.
Why Colorado will win this match: The Rapids are heavily favored in this match, and on paper, it's easy to see why. They have almost double the number of points of Chivas, they've beaten the Goats twice already this season, and they seem to have a clear advantage in talent. Still, the Rapids will have to deal with the threat of overlooking this game, thinking they have three points in the bag. Chivas have changed quite a bit and gotten better since their last match, and the Rapids are unlikely to just have a track meet to beat the Goats. Still, if Colorado stays focused, really does their homework on Chivas under Jose Luis Real, and shows up ready to play, a win looks quite likely.
Why this match will end in a draw: Although Chivas haven't fouled nearly as much recently, they've still got quite the penchant for picking up red cards, and that could change the tenor of the game. Of course, it could lead to a loss, as it did in last week's match, but it could also muddy the picture and lead to a draw. In addition, Chivas could really batten down the hatches and try to get out of their losing streak, and although a draw wouldn't be as sweet as a win, a draw would be preferable to no result. I'm not really feeling a draw here, but I certainly think it is a solid possibility.
Chivas: Carlos Bocanegra (suspended - red card), Daniel Antunez (knee), Tim Melia (back), Eric Avila (hip - listed as questionable), Julio Morales (hamstring - listed as questionable)
Colorado: Hendry Thomas (suspended), Edson Buddle (hamstring), Diego Calderon (knee), Atiba Harris (quad - listed as questionable), Martin Rivero (quad - listed as questionable)