Preview: D.C. United Vs. Chivas USA, September 23, 2012

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Chivas and D.C. meet for the only time this season. Who will get the points? (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

Chivas USA continue their eastern road trip this week with a match against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (4 pm PDT, Galavision). Both teams are coming off midweek matches, and surprisingly, Chivas get an extra day of rest compared to United. As you may remember, Chivas lost Wednesday's game to the Columbus Crew at the last minute, while D.C. beat the Philadelphia Union on Thursday 1-0. Both teams have had ups and downs this season, but unsurprisingly, Chivas is the more downtrodden team, as D.C. currently sits in the Eastern Conference playoff positions. For Chivas' part, can they finally break their winless streak? Those of us who are still following the Goats hope this might be the game.

If you missed it, be sure to check out the story about James Riley's mysterious red card, as well as the Three Questions article with Martin Shatzer.

Now on with the preview:

Tale of the Tape:

Chivas USA: 28 points (7-14-7), 9th in Western Conference, 17th place overall; Goal Difference: -23 (21/44); Last five matches: D-L-L-L-L

D.C. United: 47 points (14-10-5), 4th in Eastern Conference, 6th place overall; Goal Difference: 7 (46/39); Last five matches: L-D-L-W-W

Key match-up: Chivas defense vs. D.C. attack

Yes, I keep writing that the key to the game is how Chivas' defense performs, but its the defense that has really crushed the team's prospects match after match for nearly two months now. When they finally get their act together, it might result in a draw or even perhaps a win. Of course, we know the attack keeps drawing blanks, as they've been doing all season, but the defense showed us at one point this year that they were a competent, even above average group. The fact that they continue to demonstrate puzzling limitations every game means the pressure continues to be on them.

On the other side, D.C. will be missing star Dwayne De Rosario, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, which means he won't be the culprit of a bogus penalty this year. But Chris Pontius has emerged as a very good forward in MLS and will have to be first and foremost in the Chivas' defensive gameplan. Former Philadelphia striker Lionard Pajoy recently joined D.C., and scored in the midweek match, and former Goat Maicon Santos is still in the mix, although he's cooled off significantly after a hot start to the season. Rookie Nick DeLeon has had ups and downs, but he seems to be adjusting to the professional game and length of the MLS season, and his playmaking skills could prove to be a handful.

Why Chivas will win this match: Uhhh...the planets could align. Chivas could have all 11 players behind the effort and on the same page. D.C. could show up thinking they don't need to work to beat the Goats, and Chivas could catch them unprepared. It's certainly possible. But as the losing streak continues and the team makes mistakes and the luck goes against them, it's hard to really make a convincing case why they'll win. It's not that I don't support this team, but I need to see something truly promising. We know the poor run is wearing on the team, but its wearing on the fans too. Just get a win, in any way, and we'll go from there.

Why D.C. will win this match: On paper, it looks like a no-brainer. Don't get me wrong, D.C. is typically not a dominant team, but they are more often than not wily and able to do enough to get the result. Will this be a scrappy game? Most likely. But United have only lost once at home this season, in the home opener, and seem to take real pride in that statistic. Their roster is usually a combination of skill and grit, and they seem to be fully behind coach Ben Olsen's project. It seems like a much better atmosphere than the one currently surrounding Chivas, right? Well, there's probably a connection there, and as a result, D.C. has to be the betting favorite.

Why this match will end in a draw: Both clubs are coming off midweek matches, neither of which were draws, so they're probably due for a draw. Chivas have played D.C. hard in the past, if they haven't been victorious as often as one would hope, and if the game becomes a (hopefully metaphorical) slugfest, a draw would be especially likely. A draw would be better than yet another loss for Chivas, but let's be real: this team is absolutely desperate for a win right now.

Notable absences:

Chivas: Oswaldo Minda (suspended - yellow cards), James Riley (suspended - red card), Tim Melia (back)

D.C.: Dwayne De Rosario (knee), Josh Wolff (back), Daniel Woolard (concussion), Marcelo Saragosa (hamstring - listed as probable)

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