Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
The 2010 season has not started well for Martin Vasquez and Chivas USA.
Currently sitting at the foot of the Western Conference table with a total of 10 points, the Rojiblancos have looked competitive, but concentration in the dying moments of the game continually eludes them. During the club's recent four game losing skid, the last three defeats came when goals were given up in the last two minutes of the game.
This streak continued last Saturday when a 90th minute penalty kick goal by ex Chivas USA defender Carey Talley gave Chivas USA their four straight defeat. The late penalty mirrored a decision that befell the Rojiblancos two weeks prior when the club was defeated in Columbus due to another late PK goal.This lack of concentration has not been lost on the first year head coach.
"What we're going to do is not stress out about the last game, we can't do much but right now we need to get our confidence back and get results," said Vasquez. "We need to be sure that we can keep our concentration, we have to stress this and we have to correct it."
For the club to rebound from a difficult month, Chivas will need their captain Sacha Kljestan to continue the form that has earned a great amount of praise earlier in the season. The midfielder returned to the team on Saturday for their match against D.C. United after being unsuccessful in his efforts to make Bob Bradley's World Cup roster.
In his first year as captain, the season should provide a test for the 24-year-old Kljestan as he looks to help lead his young squad back to the playoffs.
"I still think that we have a good amount of quality, but I know if Martin makes some changes then young guys have to step up and I need to make sure that they know that I have confidence in them," said Kljestan. "We need to play our game and every guy really needs to look themselves in the mirror and pick themselves up."
Chivas USA face a difficult test on Saturday as the club travels to Red Bull Arena to take on a New York Red Bull side that is in the midst its own four game losing streak. The clubs are familiar with one another since Chivas USA defeated the Red Bulls earlier in the season at the Home Depot Center, 2-0. As the Rojiblancos prepare for the two week World Cup break, Kljestan understands the magnitude of the clash with the Red Bulls.
"We need to turn the ship around, we've lost four straight and we don't want to go in the break having lost five in a row," said Kljestan. "We've beaten New York already this season and we need to go in looking for three points."
The club's task against the Red Bulls will be made even more difficult as they will need to do without their goalkeeper Zach Thornton. The 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the year was suspended after picking up a red card on a foul that led to Talley's decisive penalty. Without Thornton, Chivas USA will turn to back up Dan Kennedy who faces a fitness test to return to action after missing several matches with a hip strain. Should Kennedy be unable to play against New York, the Rojiblancos will turn to league pool goalkeeper Kevin Guppy who has been training with the team since Kennedy picked up his injury.
"We will see how Kevin and Dan are this week, we know that Kennedy is returning from an injury and it is important that Dan comes back at a 100%," said Vasquez. "If not then we're not going to take that risk because Kevin has been working with us and we have confidence that he can respond if the opportunity is there."
Although the season has started poorly for the fans of the Rojiblancos due to the club's inconstant form,the club remains upbeat that a rebound is possible. Heading into the match against the Red Bulls, Vasquez remains optimistic about Chivas USA's ability to bounce back from its current slide.
"We have to learn our lesson and I think that once we get a good result, I feel that we can finally turn it around."