After a stretch of three games in eight days, Chivas USA had a full five days to prepare for the next game, which is Friday evening at "home" against Sporting Kansas City (7:30 pm PT, TWC Deportes/tickets certainly available). Both teams have lost four games in a row, so something has to give in this one. Despite their struggles, Sporting remain far higher in the table than the Goats, but can Chivas spring a surprise against the defending MLS Cup champions? We'll find out this evening.
In the meantime, take a look at the Three Questions feature for this game from Thursday.
Now, time to preview the game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 24 points (6-15-6), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -24 (23/47); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-D
Sporting Kansas City: 42 points (12-10-6); 2nd in Eastern Conference, 6th place overall; Goal Difference: 5 (39/34); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-W
Chivas lining up to be slump busters once again? Earlier this season, Chivas had a penchant for sinking to the occasion against struggling teams, leading to several results where they seemed to roll over and give those opponents a boost.
I'm not going to lie — this game looks to be shaping up as another slump buster against a new opponent. With the central defense constantly switching in and out, and little difference between the players lining up in those positions, and with the team having zero attacking intent in recent games, they don't have the recipe for success. Add to that Erick Torres is suspended for this game (he'll be serving the first of his two-game suspension now that he's back from Mexico national team duty), and that Sporting's attack has been consistently solid, even through this stretch, and Chivas have their work cut out for them.
CUSA have shown they can play a good game from time to time this season. But without Carlos Bocanegra, without Cubo, and with the team struggling so much, it really looks like another rout is in the cards. It's up to this team to prove that won't be the case.
Why Chivas will win this game: Well, I just laid out the case for why they won't. The best scenario for getting three points against KC would be for them to keep the visitors off the scoresheet, and to grab a goal, either on a counterattack or perhaps a penalty. Sporting lead the league in fouls committed, yet again (Chivas, not surprisingly, are second), and so a physical game is to be expected. That could hurt the Goats, but it could also benefit them, if a SKC player grabs a red card during the match. It's a risky strategy, perhaps, but it is a way to win a game, and especially given Sporting's shaky results lately, they can grab a win. But it's not going to be easy, especially how Chivas themselves have played lately.
Why Sporting will win this game: If Sporting score more than one goal, it's as good as over, even if it happens in the first minute of the game. Chivas just aren't equipped to get involved in any kind of shootout (or even multigoal game). I would argue that the only reason CUSA scored two goals last week against Seattle is because they were down by four goals at the half and the Sounders had basically shut down for the second 45. So Sporting simply need to return to their standard game plan of pressing opponents very hard, controlling possession, and battering the opponent's goal over 90 minutes, and the game will likely be a routine return to form for them.
Why this match will end in a draw: Given the talent imbalance between these teams, a tie doesn't seem likely, but with both teams going a long stretch without a win, a draw would be an improvement, certainly. And for Chivas, given their difficult schedule for the remainder of the season, it's most likely going to be very difficult to pick up points. So getting a draw against the league champions will be an accomplishment within the context of the season to date.
Chivas: Erick Torres (suspended), Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee)
SKC: Ike Opara (ankle), Chance Myers (Achilles), Jacob Peterson (hamstring), Eric Kronberg (hand - listed as questionable)