Chivas USA take to the road to wrap up another season series on Saturday, as they take on the Portland Timbers (7:30 pm PT, TWC Deportes). Both teams are coming off losses in their most recent competitive games, but Chivas are on a slide at the moment, as they try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season to date in this game. Which team will emerge at Providence Park? We'll find out this evening.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions feature for this game on Friday.
Let's preview the game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 23 points (6-10-5), 9th place in Western Conference, 16th place overall; Goal Difference: -13 (21/34); Last five games: L-L-L-W-W
Portland Timbers: 27 points (6-7-9), 7th place in Western Conference, 11th place overall; Goal Difference: -2 (36/38); Last five games: L-W-W-L-D
All-Star hangover? Since 2005, only one team has won in their first competitive game after hosting the MLS All-Star Game. Last year, Sporting KC hosted the All-Star Game, then faced the New York Red Bulls in their next competitive game. They ended up losing the Supporters' Shield at the end of the season to the Red Bulls...by one point.
On Wednesday, Portland hosted the All-Star Game. Does that mean the Goats should have a decent chance in this game? One would think. I can't imagine teams who host the ASG take their next game lightly year after year after year, and while the Timbers have been saying the festivities this week aren't a distraction for this game against CUSA, the stats are really stacking up over the years.
That said, if Chivas expect to roll into town and pick up three points for merely showing up, they're going to get blown away. Add to that the fact that Bobby Burling and Carlos Bocanegra will be out of the lineup yet again this week due to injury, and their scoring woes of late (one goal in their last three games) and they will have plenty of work to do if they want to maintain the historical record of All-Star hangovers for the hosts.
Why Chivas will win this game: They played better last week, despite the loss, and another week of the current defense being together (as I'm assuming Akira Kaji, Eriq Zavaleta, Tony Lochhead, and Donny Toia will be the starting backline again) should help their coherence and positioning as a group. And despite the current losing streak, Wilmer Cabrera has managed to avoid a prolonged stretch without points with this team so far. As always, the key for this group is what version they turn up as for this game -- will they look like a team that can compete with any opponent, a truly competitive MLS side, or will they put in a lethargic, disorganized performance? The puzzle with this team is figuring out which version will show up. For Chivas sake (and the sake of the fans), let's hope the competitive side wins out more often than not and in particular shows up against Portland, in order to even up the season series between these clubs.
Why Portland will win this game: I mean, we'll see, but the Timbers claim they really didn't disrupt their regular preparations all that much this week. In addition, they completely demolished the Goats in the teams' last meeting, and although the scoreline was just 2-0, the win was much more commanding than that. And with a quest to grab a playoff place in mind (they're currently three points out of the last spot), they probably aren't planning on taking this game off. Diego Valeri is in fantastic form at the moment, and if Chivas can't contain him, it's going to be a long night. On top of that, if Chivas can't get their attack going, they probably aren't going to pose much of a challenge to Portland's evolving defense, which will let them off the hook and make their job to win that much easier. The Timbers are overwhelming favorites in this game, and on paper, it honestly looks like a win is pretty likely.
Why this game will end in a draw: Honestly, while wins are the name of the game, a draw here would be mutually beneficial for both teams. Chivas would halt their losing streak, and a tie would provide some positive momentum, even if it isn't a win. Portland would drop two points, sure, but they would also weather the All-Star hangover by still getting a result. I can't imagine both teams would be jumping for joy over a draw, but compared to other games, a tie here would probably be decent overall.
Chivas: Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Bobby Burling (knee), Carlos Bocanegra (concussion)
Timbers: Pa Modou Kah (Achilles - listed as questionable), Darlington Nagbe (knee - listed as questionable)