By Luis Bueno – CARSON, CA (June 6, 2014) US Soccer Players – Typically, the comforts of playing at home in MLS are easy to spot. The supporters turn out en masse, the calls may be more in favor than in opposition, and the pride that exists in protecting the home turf surfaces. Chivas USA have somehow made the opposite true.
“It’s become difficult mentally for all of us to try to even tie at home,” Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera said.
Chivas USA’s home games have featured one head-scratching moment after the next. The results have consequently not been there. With the club’s 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, Chivas have now lost five consecutive home games.
There is relief in sight, however. Chivas will play in-stadium rivals LA Galaxy on Sunday. They have hope, despite the venue.
“We’re going to play away against LA Galaxy,” Cabrera said. “We’re going to be visitors and that’s the positive thing that’s coming right now.”
When Chivas play against the Galaxy, Chivas’ players and coaches will sit on the opposing team’s bench. That’s enough of a shift for the players to make the game feel different than these previous two matches.
Chivas USA failed to score in either of the last two home games. The goals went against them in their 5-game losing streak, outscored 14-2. While the statistics are certainly distressing, the manner in which Chivas have played at home is perhaps even more so.
The club has yet to piece together one solid, cohesive effort at home. On the road, however, Chivas have had success doing that. Against Colorado on May 11th, Chivas flattened the Rapids and save for a late goal allowed, Chivas were on point.
At home, that breakthrough performances aren’t happening.
“The only way to get this is understanding that as players we have to be a little bit more united,” Cabrera said. “We have to understand that we have to battle this just being together on the field, running and not making any, any mistake for 90 minutes. When we can get that, we’re going to be able to do it.”
Chivas have faced some difficult teams at home. The LA Galaxy, Seattle and Portland have all left with three points. More than just the caliber of rivals, Chivas players have done themselves wrong. Bounces and calls have gone so far the other way it’s often not a question of if that will continue, but how hard the club will suffer because of them.
“We cannot make one mistake, not only with the rules but in the run of play,” Cabrera said. “You don’t mark, you don’t cover the cross, you don’t get in the box and you’re getting punished.”
How strange have things been at home? The club drew less than 10,000 combined the last two matches, so any sort of boost provided to teams by home fans is not there for Chivas. In fact, the 3,702 that turned out to watch Chivas USA – Portland might be the lowest attendance ever for an MLS match.
Against Philadelphia, Chivas picked up the seldom-seen six-second rule violation. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy drew the whistle for holding the ball for longer than six seconds. Couple that with the club’s indiscipline – Chivas have finished with 10 men in each of the last four home games – and the problems quickly amass for Chivas.
“We’re getting punished very badly,” Cabrera said. “For me, the key right now is how can we manage just to avoid little mistakes that can cause PKs, red cards, six-second rule (violations), fouls that will give options.”
At home then, the margin of error is razor-thin. The more Chivas USA players are aware of that, the less of a chance of another home massacre.
“It’s like we can’t make one mistake,” Cabrera said. “We have to think that way, that we can’t make one mistake.”
Luis Bueno is a veteran soccer writer. Follow him on twitter @BuenoSoccer.
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