Chivas USA tied a club record with their sixth consecutive league loss Saturday night, as they fell 4-0 to Real Salt Lake at the Home Depot Center. Behind a three goal night by Alvaro Saborio and a three assist night by Fabian Espindola, the visitors had control of the game for nearly the entire match, and made it clear which team is going to the playoffs and which is in last place in the conference.
The scoring started in the eighth minute, when Espindola sent a cross from the right into the box. The cross was flicked on by Javier Morales, who got to the ball just before John Valencia, and Saborio was in perfect position to tap in the ball past Dan Kennedy. They doubled their lead just four minutes later when Espindola set up Saborio once again, this time intercepting Kennedy's throw to Valencia, then sent a pass to Saborio once again, who was able to slot it home easily. While Chivas tried to stay lively in the first half, only Miller Bolanos really provided any shots, and he hit a few that required saves by Nick Rimando.
Saborio finished his hat trick with a goal in the 65th minute. When Will Johnson faced a wall near the goal and had his shot blocked, the ball fell to Saborio, who saw Kennedy off his line (while dealing with Johnson) and chipped the Chivas keeper. The ball bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and in for his third. Admittedly, it was a nice goal. Substitute Paulo Jr. added a fourth goal in the 81st minute, when he took a pass from Espindola and slammed it past Kennedy.
With that, let's take a look at the talking points coming out of the match:
Scoreless streak reaching epic proportions: Chivas have not scored in 442 minutes. That's nearly five full matches, and believe it or not, it is the longest scoreless streak this season. For all the handwringing at the beginning of the season, and the impotent play in the middle of the year when they couldn't score with any regularity, this is the worst stretch offensively of the season. During the scoreless span, the only player to really have any nose for goal or solid shots has been Miller Bolanos, who provided nearly all of Chivas' chance on the night. His accuracy was much better in this match, and he forced Rimando to work for the shutout, especially in the first half. But with six guys defending in middling-to-poor form, three guys working for chances but getting nothing, and one guy providing all the chances, it isn't much of a surprise that Chivas look worse than they have in a long time, and that's really saying something.
Kennedy gets burned twice by the same team: When Chivas lost to RSL back on June 16, Dan Kennedy made a crucial error in distributing the ball out of the back, as Jonny Steele intercepted the ball and set up a goal for Espindola. Tonight, the same thing happened, as Espindola was the one watching for a chance at sloppy distribution by Kennedy. Considering this is only a mistake that Kennedy has made and been caught on twice, it can be argued that it isn't a big concern relative to Chivas' other problems, and that is valid. But the fact that the two times Kennedy made the mistake was against the same team means RSL has kept an eye on a fault in Kennedy's game, and scouted him well. Hopefully Chivas and Kennedy work on this component so that an opponent doesn't catch them playing sloppy once again.
Oh yeah, defense is still a problem: Among the other records Chivas is matching or breaking, they are tied for third-worst in goals conceded and now have the worst goal difference at -28. Part of that comes from the awful goals scored tally, which is still technically tied for worst-ever in MLS history, but conceding 49 goals is not usually a recipe for success. Although the team had tamped down the blowouts in recent games, they still weren't getting results, but this performance puts them back at square one. And what's more remarkable is that there could have easily been more goals scored by Salt Lake, as Kennedy made four saves and Valencia had a terrific goal line clearance in the second half off a Morales shot that should be considered for save of the week. Still, those few bright spots are being canceled out, and then some, by the deluge of mistakes and poor play that's led to blowouts like this one. Once again, the defense is back to square one.
Looking ahead: Chivas play their final game in hand on Wednesday when they travel to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Chivas are giving fans no hope at this point, but Vancouver has been on a sustained slide themselves, as they've gone from firmly in the playoff positions to a seven game winless streak that included a five game losing streak. Does that mean the Goats have a chance? Yeah, why not, but it's still not going to be easy, since this team can't seem to get anything right at the moment.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!