Chivas USA are back in action with yet another Sunday match, this time an early affair on account of the team being in the Eastern Time Zone, as they take on Toronto FC for the only time in 2014 (12 pm PT, UniMas). The Goats have had a good history against the original Canadian MLS team, but will that history hold in what may be the teams' last ever clash? Toronto has struggled lately, but they still seem to have far more talent than the Goats. Still, these teams have lots of connections, including the fact that TFC's new coaching staff basically all have ties to CUSA, so who knows what's going to happen here.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions exchange with Waking the Red from Friday.
And now, on to the preview:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 24 points (6-16-6), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -28 (23/51); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-L
Toronto FC: 34 points (9-11-7), 7th in Eastern Conference, 13th place overall; Goal Difference: -7 (36/43); Last five matches: D-L-L-L-D
Will Toronto be the latest team to bust a slump vs. Chivas?
TFC are fighting for their playoff hopes at this point, a quest that is bigger for them than any other team in MLS by virtue of the fact that they're the only team to have never made the postseason in their history, they spent tens of millions of dollars to get to that this season as a baseline, and they've fired their original coach within the last month to try and jumpstart those hopes. I'm not going to lie, I'm really pulling for TFC to make it this year, and it's the non-CUSA storyline I'm most interested in. Of course, who knows what will happen if they fall short again this year, but at least they're within touching distance right now, sitting in 7th place in the East three points out of 5th and with a game in hand over the teams above them (bear in mind these facts are mentioned before the Saturday games got underway).
On the other hand, Chivas have had TFC's number over the years, with no losses to the Ontario side since August 2010, their second-longest unbeaten streak against any MLS team (only the run against the New York Red Bulls is longer). Most years, however, these teams are both sitting at or near the bottom of their respective conferences, by this point in the season well out of the playoff hunt. This year, a new team is well in the race for the postseason, and it's definitely not the Goats, who will be officially eliminated with a loss and a Vancouver Whitecaps win (though we know the playoffs aren't happening anyway).
Can Chivas grab another result against TFC? Or will the Goats be cannon fodder for yet another struggling MLS side?
Why Chivas will win this match: With perhaps the possible exception of the season finale against San Jose, this is the most winnable game on paper for Chivas for the remainder of the season. That, of course, assumes the team can actually play at a level superior to their opponent, and given what we've seen since mid-July, that's far from assured. Still, Toronto are really trying to gain some footing, and there is the sense that they're on a real tailspin. If Chivas can play at all well, then they have a shot. They are still heavy underdogs, but they have to feel like they have a chance here. Or, to put it another way, if they get blown away in this game too, the next month is going to be absolutely brutal.
Why Toronto will win this match: The winless streak against Chivas has to end at some point, and while wantaway striker Jermain Defoe isn't going to feature, the likes of Michael Bradley, Gilberto, and who knows, maybe even former CUSA striker Luke Moore are capable of scoring on a very poor defense. And with Cubo Torres suspended again for this game, the last of his extended absence from the Goats' lineup, the hopes of scoring for the visitors rests on...who? Exactly. Even if TFC struggle, they are liable to grab a win at home even if they score once against Chivas, based on recent form.
Why this game will end in a draw: I mean, Chivas have work to do to surpass last year's putrid points total, believe it or not, so any point counts on that front. For TFC, a single point would be pretty close to disastrous, since that means they will have more work to do to overcome the points deficit to make the playoffs, putting even more pressure on themselves at the end of the season. Hey, it could happen, but I really think there's going to be a winner in this game.
Chivas: Erick Torres (suspended), Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Marky Delgado (knee), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (fatigue - listed as questionable)
TFC: Jermain Defoe (adductor), Collen Warner (hamstring), Jonathan Osorio (hamstring - listed as questionable), Steven Caldwell (quad - listed as questionable)