Juan Agudelo of Chivas USA and Drew Moor of Colorado Rapids go up for a header. (Trevor Brown / Getty Images )
Chivas USA hasn't made it to Major League Soccer's postseason since 2009. So when the team took the field against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday at the Home Depot Center it was in a familiar place: 10 points out of a playoff berth with 12 games to play. (For results of Saturday's game, go to latimes.com.)
"We'd love to not be in this spot. We'd like to be at the top looking back at the rest who are trying to catch up," Coach Robin Fraser said. "But you are where you are. Rather than thinking about a lot of other things, really we just focus on each game."
But while the challenge Chivas faces over the next two months may not be favorable, it's not impossible either. Chivas has played 22 games, fewer than any other team in the Western Conference, meaning it has as many as five games in hand against some of the opponents it is chasing. And, starting Saturday against the Sounders, eight of Chivas' final 12 games are against teams ahead of it in the standings.
If that's the good news, though, here's the bad: only five of those 12 games will be against teams that began Saturday with a losing record.
"Obviously, it doesn't do you any good to have games in hand if you don't get the points out of them," Fraser said. "We are still in a position where we can finish [in the playoffs]. That's where we want to get to. But it's certainly not going to be easy. And we're aware of that.
"We have to look at every game as a game where we can get some points."
Yet, it's because of a lack of points, especially the ones on the scoreboard, that Chivas finds itself again chasing the field late in the season. Fraser's team has scored only 15 goals, by far the worst total in MLS. That's an average of 0.68 goals per game, leaving the team on pace to become the least offensive one in league history.
Chivas' front office has tried to jump start that production by adding forwards Juan Agudelo, Jose Erick Correa and midfielder Shalrie Joseph since the start of the season. But adding so many new personalities to a team already lacking chemistry may have actually hurt Chivas.
"Until you start getting the results you want and the chemistry you want you feel like it's still a feeling-out process," Fraser said. "But realistically we've added players because we've felt like they're good players and they can help us."
Yet, Correa hasn't played in a month, Agudelo has started only twice in the last two months and hasn't scored in three months and Joseph didn't take a shot or register an assist in his first two games with Chivas.
"It is what it is and we are where we are," Fraser said. "And as much as we talk about how difficult the schedule may be, really the only thing was can focus on is our next game."