Every year, I've written a piece about Chivas USA's motivations to play their final games, after they've been knocked out of playoff contention (since that happens annually, unfortunately). Most of the time, the sadness is a way to rally sentiment to keep watching just a bit longer in the season — just X more points, then the season will be this much better/worse than all these other years!
This year, it's a bit different, since there's the report that the team is going to disappear hanging over everyone's heads. On one hand, the sadness is considerably stronger, but it can also be argued that we have to actually appreciate what's left, since it looks like it will be gone very soon.
Most years, the desire to see CUSA to grab points in their final, practically meaningless games of a disappointing season is there, of course, but with no belief, it's kind of a slog. This year, with the team playing a bit better of late, in grabbing two wins in their last two games, there's a sense that maybe they can go out, forever perhaps, on a higher note.
That remains to be seen, with two games this week to finish off the slate for the Goats, but let's at least look at where Chivas USA's season sits at present compared to other years, and what they have to play for, at least compared to their own history:
CUSA currently sit on eight wins for the year, better than 2005 (4), 2012 (7), 2013 (6), and level with 2010 and 2011. If they win out the season, they will match 2006's wins total, at 10, a pretty substantial mark for a team that was out of the playoff hunt entirely from late July, compared to the club's first playoff team.
There have been considerable ups and downs this season, and nobody would say this year's vintage should be in the same class as the best years of 2006-09, but with another win or two, this year's team could be among the best of the bad years. That's damning with faint praise, perhaps, but it's what we're working with.
Chivas have 30 points at the moment. That ranks them tied for sixth-best in the 10 seasons, so it's not very good. Right now, their points haul is better than 2005 (18), 2013 (26) and 2010 (28), and level with 2012. But they got 36 points in 2011, something they can reach if they do happen to win those last two matches, and they are well out of reach regarding the playoff years, which are 43 points (2006, 2008), 45 points (2009), and 53 points (2007).
One of the reasons their points are so low is because they have lost a lot. This season, their 18 losses are tied with the Montreal Impact for worst in MLS, and that mark is joint third-worst in club history, behind only the expansion year's dismal total of 22, and last year's marginally better mark of 20 (and tied with 2010 and 2012). If it feels like Chivas USA loses a lot, it's because they do. And looking at the bare numbers makes that a sobering fact.
The Goats aren't actually on the bottom of the Western Conference standings at the moment, with San Jose sitting under them (and possibly conveniently, possibly not, the Quakes will play CUSA in the season/series finale). The teams are level on points, though Chivas have a game in hand, so if they get anything against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday (a tough task), they could really have a shot of being not-worst to end the campaign.
The last time Chivas didn't finish in last place in the West was 2011, when the Vancouver Whitecaps were a new MLS club and grabbed worst record in the league. They didn't actually finish at the bottom between 2006-11, so the last couple years have been an anomaly of sorts, despite the reputation Chivas has garnered as just the worst ever.
Dan Kennedy already holds team records in appearances and shutouts, so those won't change hands in the last couple of games.
Erick Torres has already set the team mark for goals in a season, though he can obviously add to it. Theoretically, he can still break Ante Razov's all-time MLS scoring mark if he scores nine goals, but that seems unlikely with just two games left. Razov scored 30 league goals for the Goats, while Cubo sits on 22 for the moment. If he can score three goals in his final two games, he will take over sole possession of second all-time, ahead of Maykel Galindo and Justin Braun, who are tied at 24 apiece.
Also, Marvin Chavez or Felix Borja could take sole possession of second in scoring for the Goats this season if they score just one more goal. Actually, any player could do damage if they score a few, which seems unlikely though entirely possible, since second on the team currently constitutes two goals.
So there you go. Two games left, possibly forever. There's no postseason, but there's a sense of trying to send this club to Valhalla on a positive note. Can the Goats actually get results in their final two games? Stay tuned.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!