Chivas USA will look to grab another result with their third-to-last game (possibly ever) on Saturday, when they take on the Colorado Rapids at "home" (7:30 pm PT, TWC Deportes/Tickets clearly available). The Goats are coming off their first win since July, while the Rapids are coming off a loss to Seattle, something the Goats are very familiar with. Both sides will be missing a number of key players for this game, and are limping to the finish of the season, so it will be interesting to see how they show up in this game. Certainly, with the teams struggling and splitting the season series so far, they have to feel like they can get a result, but can either team rise to the occasion? That's why they play the games, of course.
On to the preview...
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 27 points (7-18-6), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -32 (26/58); Last five matches: W-L-L-L-L
Colorado Rapids: 32 points (8-15-8), 7th in Western Conference, 16th place overall; Goal Difference: -16 (42/58); Last five matches: L-D-L-D-L
Can Chivas build on last week's upset? In my last game preview, I paid lip service to the idea that this is MLS, any team can win on any given day, and then gave the Goats zero chance of beating Real Salt Lake. They didn't listen to my script, thankfully, and beat RSL for the second time this season, and while a striker other than Cubo scored and they kept a clean sheet, no less. It was impressive.
It seems spirits have been completely turned around ahead of this game. The Rapids' morale is drooping, they're out of the playoffs after making that surprising run last season, and they seem kind of rudderless at the moment. Seems like the perfect time to strike for CUSA! But remember, despite the apparent miracle of last week, where the team played well, yes, but events fell into place perfectly, really, they've been playing horribly for months. And the Rapids beat them last time out, very convincingly, too. So what will happen in this one?
Well, we're likely to see two teams grasp at finding some kind of rhythm, and the side that can actually manage decent chances will have the upper hand, obviously, as long as they can do a credible job defending, too. Chivas should have an edge on the goalkeeping front, as Pablo Mastroeni literally keeps rotating his trio of GKs, something you basically never see in top flight soccer but who knows, maybe he's on the cutting edge here. Beyond that, this is a game that's very much for the taking, for both teams, and as the "home" side, Chivas will need to work hard to take advantage of the opportunity.
Why Chivas will win this game: Their attack has looked much better (for them) the past two games, and while Cubo Torres will be out, which is a massive loss, the guys likely to start up top, Felix Borja and Ryan Finley, have gotten goals semi-recently, so may have a bit of confidence, especially against a Rapids defense that could be mostly or entirely newbies, reserves, or guys playing out of position. And while there still are Colorado players who could score, the fact that Deshorn Brown is gone is going to hurt the Rapids quite a bit. I think this game is going to be ugly, but Chivas are overwhelming favorites in this game, if you can believe it, and it does seem like they may be able to build on last week in grabbing another result. It's up to them to close the deal entirely.
Why Colorado will win this game: One win does not a season make, as Chivas' mostly awful season has proven. Sure, they won four games in a row at one point, but the highlights have been few and far between otherwise. And the Rapids still have some talent on their team that should feature, including reigning Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers and previously misfiring DP Gabriel Torres, who was left off Panama's roster for their friendly next week against Mexico, and may get another chance with Brown out of the lineup. Plus, Colorado's Torres scored on the Goats in their 3-0 win in July, so he could be hitting his stride against this team in particular. And even though Colorado haven't won a league game since that win over Chivas 2.5 months ago, they may find CUSA are the ideal opponent to get their pent-up energy out on. Hey, it worked for Chivas themselves last week.
Why this game will end in a draw: This one has tie written all over it. Two teams with nothing to play for at this point in the season, with a slew of players out due to injury or international duty or suspension, with rookie head coaches -- like I said, it seems like it will be an ugly encounter and is quite likely to end in a stalemate. One more point would move this season level with 2010's points total for CUSA, so it would represent "progress," in a sense. I guess we'll have to see how the game plays out to know whether a draw is really a good result or not. Context could be key.
Chivas: Erick Torres (international duty), Marvin Chavez (international duty), Nathan Sturgis (suspended), Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Marky Delgado (knee)
Colorado: Deshorn Brown (international duty), Dillon Serna (international duty), Marlon Hairston (international duty), Shane O'Neill (suspended), Brian Mullan (knee), Drew Moor (knee), Edson Buddle (Achilles - listed as questionable), Chris Klute (calf - listed as questionable)