What is likely the final month of Chivas USA games is upon us, starting with the first of two games in October against Real Salt Lake on Sunday afternoon at "home" (4 pm PT, TWC Deportes/tickets obviously available). RSL can clinch a playoff berth, their seventh straight, with a result, while the Goats are out of the playoffs officially as of last week. Clearly, we can see which way the wind blows, on paper anyway. Will that wind blow the same way in reality? We'll find out soon enough.
With that, let's preview the game:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 24 points (6-18-6), 9th place in Western Conference, 19th place overall; Goal Difference: -33 (25/58); Last five games: L-L-L-L-L
Real Salt Lake: 49 points (13-7-10), 3rd place in Western Conference, 4th place overall; Goal Difference: 12 (50/38); Last five games: L-W-L-W-D
Any chance Chivas won't roll over again? If this were a normal situation, we'd look at the long decline of Chivas USA, both this year and over several seasons, with considerable fury over wasting yet another season. As it is, with the club looking likely to close up shop after this month, we're just watching a sad, sad ending. Unless...
Yes, it seems likely that CUSA will probably lose their way through the end of their existence, but we can't know for certain until they actually play these games. And the Goats did in fact beat RSL in their only meeting so far this season, to kick off a four-game winning streak. Sure, an early red card to their opponents helped matters, but with MLS, there is always a sense of any team winning on any given day, Chivas USA's futility a very notable exception. But hey, this is an opportunity for the Goats to hold off RSL for a second time, and that will be an impressive feat indeed. Otherwise, it's just going to be more sadness, something this team just doesn't need right now.
Why Chivas will win this match: Maybe Salt Lake will pick up a key red card again in this game. Maybe they'll pick up a couple. Maybe they'll be out of sorts, while CUSA will summon the ability to perform like a competitive team in MLS, capable of beating a formidable opponent. Maybe Erick Torres will score a hat trick and the rest of the team will shut up shop behind him. Listen, it could happen - we've seen this team play well at times this season. We haven't seen it very often, but we've seen it. Is it in the cards for this one? Probably not, but there's still a chance (cue: "So you're saying there's a chance?").
Why RSL will win this match: They thought they were going to clinch their playoff spot last week, but got beat by Vancouver, so that was their wake-up call, and now they'll take on the worst team in the league. Tell me, what do you think will happen here? And given CUSA's penchant for giving up three or four goals, with Eric Bobadilla noting earlier this week that the pattern established indicates three goals will be allowed in this one, does it seem likely Chivas can score four? No, it does not. RSL are heavy, heavy favorites to best their expansion brothers, and it seems like an overwhelming bet that they'll do it in this game.
Why this game will end in a draw: This seems mighty unlikely once again, and that's not a surprise, since the Goats have only managed six draws this season and none in their last seven, while picking up straight losses during that stretch. Like a win, a draw is entirely possible, but that doesn't mean it's very likely in this case.
Chivas: Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Marky Delgado (knee)
RSL: Tony Beltran (back)