Chivas' Ben Zemanski reacts after missing on a scoring chance against… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
It may not be time for Chivas USA to start panicking just yet. But that time is drawing near.
Because if the team is going to make a serious run at Major League Soccer's postseason for the first time since 2009, it will need to find some offense and some momentum -- two things it has lacked all season and two things that were mostly missing again Saturday when Chivas played the Vancouver Whitecaps to a scoreless draw before an announced crowd of 11,659 at the Home Depot Center.
Saturday marked the midpoint of the season for Chivas, which will enter the second half seventh in the Western Conference, two spots shy of the final wild-card playoff berth. As a result Chivas will have to play with more haste than it showed in a first half in which it was last in the league in goals, won a conference-worst two matches at home and was shutout eight times.
That, in part, was the message Coach Robin Fraser delivered to his team at the intermission. And it seemed to be one the players took to heart.
"In the second half our urgency was much better," he said. "We created a number of chances. But obviously we need to finish some of them. The urgency we saw in the second half was something we need to see more of."
Still, Chivas got mostly frustration rather than reward for its trouble.
Midway through the second half Jose Correa failed to get his boot on a loose ball at the goal line after Vancouver keeper Joe Cannon dropped it at his feet, for example. And a little more than 10 minutes later a James Riley cross found Ben Zemanski unmarked on the near post, but Zemanski's right-footed deflection was way off mark, sailing into the stands instead of the net.
Then a minute into stoppage time, midfielder Jorge Villafana twice failed to get the ball through a crowd at the edge of the Vancouver box, with his second left-footed shot bouncing off teammate Juan Pablo Angel, who was lying on the ground in front of both Cannon and an empty net.
"We felt like we were knocking at the door," Fraser said. "And we felt like one of those opportunities was going to fall for us."
It didn't. But that pressure kept the Whitecaps from putting together any chances of their own, allowing Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy to enjoy a mostly quiet night, making just one save en route to his fifth shutout of the season while extending his scoreless streak to 229 minutes.
And though Chivas has lost just once in its last eight matches, five of those games ended in ties and it will have to do better than that to climb up the standings.