Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson, top, and Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy… (Jordan Stead / Associated…)
The math has changed for Chivas USA.
Three weeks ago, the team was counting the points and trying to find an equation that would get it into the Major Soccer League playoffs. But going into Saturday's match with the San Jose Earthquakes at the Home Depot Center, Chivas found itself looking for a way to stave off elimination instead.
Portland's draw with Seattle on Saturday afternoon dropped Chivas into a tie with the Timbers at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. And the team will remain closer to last place than the playoff race no matter what happes in its late match with San Jose.
Chivas enters the weekend nine points out of the conference's fifth and final postseason berth with eight games left. That means Chivas, which hasn't won since July 28, will have to gain more than a point a game on the fifth-place Vancouver Whitecaps over the season's final six weeks to delay the start of what promises to be a long and tumultuous offseason.
And that will be difficult to do if Chivas continues to play the way it has the last two months, going 2-6-2 and getting outscored 27-11.
"Our backs are against the wall like a wounded animal, so we're scrapping for anything right now," defender James Riley said after last week's loss to Seattle. "We're scrapping for playing time, for wins, for jobs next year."
Chivas hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2009, losing more games, 44, than any team in the conference since then. And that's not a trend new owner Jorge Vergara is likely to tolerate. The infamously impatient Vergara, along with wife Angelica Fuentes, assumed full control of Chivas USA last month, leading to widespread speculation that massive changes will be made this winter.
Chivas last cleaned house two years ago, firing Coach Martin Vasquez before President and CEO Shawn Hunter and Stephen Hamilton, the vice-president of soccer operations, both resigned.