Chivas USA will face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday in PPL Park. The game begins at 8 pm ET, so it will overlap with the Gold Cup final between the USA and Mexico. As I mentioned in my article about which national team Chivas fans root for, Chivas USA is lucky the game is on the road, because otherwise many fans would have to choose between attending the match at the Home Depot Center or the Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, and MLS would probably lose out. At any rate, here's the preview for the match, where we see if the Goats can return to winning ways.
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas: 17 points (4-6-5) 8th place in Western Conference, 12th place overall; Goal difference: 0 (18/18); Last 5 games: T-T-W-L-L
Union: 23 points (6-4-5) 2nd place in Eastern Conference, 6th place overall; Goal difference: +4 (16/12); Last 5 games: W-T-T-L-T
Key Matchup: Chivas defense vs. Union defense
Chivas have faltered in recent weeks on the defensive side. Their run of form in April and part of May coincided with having a stout defense, and while they had some dull 0-0 draws during that stretch, they could hang their hats on maintaining clean sheets. Since the wild 3-3 game at Columbus, however, the wheels have fallen off, and Chivas have had a major problem maintaining leads. Obviously, goals are necessary for victories, but I think Chivas need to go back to square one in this match and make defense the cornerstone, and from there build forward. Not to take anything away from Philadelphia, who did score six goals in one game against Toronto, but they frequently have a weak attack, and Chivas need to keep them to zero or one goal in order to build confidence.
On the flip side, Philadelphia has had many of the same issues that Chivas has dealt with in having a lack of quality and goals on the offensive end, but they have been far more consistent defensively, and that is the main reason for their major leap in form this season, and why they stand 2nd in the Eastern conference. They are letting in less than a goal a game on average, and it will be very hard for Chivas to unlock their defense.
Why Chivas will win this match: Chivas have played better on the road this season. It seems they take to an underdog status, as they have beaten San Jose and New York on the road with practically nobody giving them a chance beforehand. They will need their defense to be strong, but they will need a big day from their creative players. While nobody has really emerged as the main goalscorer on this team, Nick LaBrocca and Marcos Mondaini seem to be the players that the Goats have come to rely on as the offensive catalysts, and one or both of them need to be on their game for Chivas to get three points. The Union also played on Wednesday, when they hosted Sporting KC to a 0-0 draw, so they may be tired and less-than-fully prepared for Chivas, which may be enough of a break for Chivas to get an edge.
Why Philadelphia will win this match: Philadelphia does not play a beautiful style, but more often than not, they get the job done. Despite having games where they are nowhere close to scoring, they are capable of getting wins, as they have also beaten New York (Chivas and the Union are two of the only three teams to beat NYRB this season). Danny Mwanga has had inconsistent playing time, but he is a player who can score at any time, and Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz will be back after playing with Guatemala in the Gold Cup, and he is also capable of grabbing a timely goal. The Union know Chivas are shaky right now, and will seek to exploit their lack of confidence in the back.
Why the game will end in a draw: These teams are both great at grinding out draws, and this is probably the most likely scenario. While Chivas would love to get a win, they will probably be content with a point, and Philadelphia won't be too upset if they draw, as they are sitting near the top of a weak conference, and their playoff fate does not look to be in danger whatsoever. Philadelphia is also coming off that midweek scoreless draw, so while they probably want to get some more wins, they probably will be content to pick up a point, considering players are going to be rotated in and/or fatigued from Wednesday's match.