The bad news? Chivas USA lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night, after falling 2-0 to the Portland Timbers. The result sets the team's longest losing streak of the season. Obviously, losing streaks are bad, and setting new marks for futility doesn't really bode well for a team's prospects.
But for all that said, let's consider a more optimistic counterpoint to the recent slide. And if you've read my writings for any length of time, you probably know I don't throw around "optimism" as a concept with Chivas USA all that often.
Since MLS returned from the World Cup break, Chivas USA are 4-4-0. Obviously, that's a .500 record. And if they were able to extrapolate that across the season, that's a good mark.
CUSA have played 22 games so far this season. If they had a .500 record across that span, that would give them 11 wins, which would put them in 5th place in the Western Conference at the moment (if they were in the East, which they aren't, of course, but if they were, they'd be in 3rd place). So they wouldn't be secure of a playoff spot, but they'd certainly be in control of their destiny with 12 games to play.
Since the league's World Cup break ended on June 27, only five teams have picked up more points than the Goats: the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City (17 each), FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake (14 each) and Toronto FC (13). Chivas' 12 points tie them with D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union for fourth-most since league play resumed. They are on the bottom of their conference right now, but even with the losing streak, they've picked up more points than most of the league, although it's important to note teams have played a different range of games since June 27.
So ok, it's never good to lose, and we've seen too many long losing streaks surrounding Chivas USA to simply assume this current one will end soon. And the last four games show major problems with the team's depth, especially on the defensive end, and with the attack beyond the one-man machine of Erick Torres. If the current losing run stretches on and on, then this rosier picture I've painted won't make much sense.
But it's pretty clear this team isn't a playoff team in 2014. If they manage to play .500 ball for for the rest of the season, that's going to be a considerable improvement, really, because they'll be picking up wins in half of their games. Can they get six more wins this season? Honestly, probably not, since that will double their current wins total. But it's something to strive for. And if they can continue this .500 pace, the chance will remain slim, but the Goats could sneak up on a very tough Western Conference yet. A competitive team? I'd take it in 2014.
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