Chivas USA attempt to grab another precious win with a rare Friday match in MLS, against the Colorado Rapids in the altitude (6:30 pm PT, TWC Deportes). Both teams are coming off losses, and a win for the Goats would bring them within striking distance of the playoff places, while a win for the Rapids would solidify their standing in the West's Top 5 for another week. Which team will gain the upper hand? We will find out this evening.
In the meantime, let's preview this game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 23 points (6-8-5), 8th in Western Conference, 13th place overall; Goal Difference: -9 (21/30); Last five matches: L-W-W-W-W
Colorado Rapids: 27 points (7-6-6), 5th in Western Conference, 7th place overall; Goal Difference: 4 (28/24); Last five matches: L-D-D-W-L
Can Chivas do it all over again? The last time these teams met, Chivas walked out of Dick's Sporting Goods Park in May with a 3-1 win. It was a surprise result on a few counts, and while it didn't lead to an immediate turnaround, it did demonstrate there was life in this team yet in 2014. The question now is whether CUSA can grab a win over the Rapids yet again.
The previous win appeared to have two main factors working in Chivas' favor: First, head coach Wilmer Cabrera knew Colorado very well from his days as assistant coach there, and Marvin Chavez was traded between the teams in the week leading up to the game, and grabbed a pair in his debut for Chivas USA off the bench, in what clearly appeared to be a revenge move by a player unwanted by his former team. Chavez hasn't scored since then, but he was gone for quite a while at the World Cup, and has been playing pretty well since coming back from Brazil, as he's become a fixture in the lineup in recent weeks.
But the Rapids won't really be caught off guard in this game, one would think. And while Chavez was probably able to provide some intel to the Goats last time around, the same can probably happen in the other direction this time, as Carlos Alvarez is now with the Rapids after being traded for Nathan Sturgis recently. It seems pretty likely that whatever motivation Cabrera had last time around will be matched, and perhaps then some, by Colorado this time. The question, of course, is whether Chivas can go toe-to-toe again, and come out victors on the road a second time. It's shaping up to be a fascinating game.
Why Chivas will win this match: The Rapids are inconsistent. One week, they look very good, a comfortable playoff team, and the next, they look like they have a long way to go in their development. Injuries and suspensions have taken a toll as well, and by contrast, Chivas have more or less settled on an established core of players. If Chivas can snap out of the sloppy stupor they were in last week against D.C. United, and focus, even if it is on the road, they have every chance of grabbing a win. And with the attack doing a better job of supplying service to Erick Torres, the task has to be to continue to feed the goalscoring machine (his next goal will break the club's single-season scoring mark), and keep working to integrate the rest of the attack in the scoring as well. Defensively, trying to shut down the Rapids' attack is key, and with Deshorn Brown unlikely to feature due to an injury picked up last week, Vicente Sanchez will likely be the focal point. He's scored a lot of PKs this year, so Chivas need to do all they can to avoid making a penalty (or a red card) on the Rapids in this one. But again, if Chivas can limit the Rapids to a goal or less, they are halfway to grabbing three more points, and its a formula they've shown they're getting better at of late.
Why the Rapids will win this match: It's been written on this site that despite the four-game winning streak, Chivas didn't play altogether convincingly in any of those games, and while wins are wins, it's hard to extrapolate continual success on some nervy results. The Rapids are publicly acting like it's about the process, and they aren't preoccupied with their place in the standings, but of course they aren't looking to start a losing streak. And with Cabrera's team catching them on an off day last time out, I really think the players are going to want to return the favor. Chivas look to be improving, but the Rapids, for all their issues with consistency, still have a fair number of talented players, and can turn it on somewhat easier than the Goats. I actually think Chivas have a really good shot in this one, but don't be shocked if the Rapids try to replicate the game plan used last week by D.C., and succeed.
Why this game will end in a draw: Do Friday games count as midweek? Not sure, but these teams are probably pretty evenly matched. I think the Rapids will be slight favorites, but nothing overwhelming, and with these teams so frequently involved with penalties and red cards, a key decision could swing the game pretty wildly. I'm not feeling a draw, to be honest, but that probably means it's coming.
Chivas: Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Bobby Burling (knee), Eric Avila (ankle - listed as questionable)
Rapids: Deshorn Brown (groin - listed as questionable), Jose Mari (ankle - listed as questionable), Shane O'Neill (knee - listed as questionable)