Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Soccer [Print without images]

Sunday, October 2, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Playoffs? It's possible

By Scott French

CARSON -- Chivas USA fell out of Major League Soccer's playoff chase with a seven-game winless streak at the start of the stretch drive, and its season could be done by Tuesday, with the wrong combination of results.


The Goats (8-12-11), who Sunday take on the Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center, sit 14th in the overall standings, five points from the final spot with just three games to play. They would need to vault past at least four rivals -- all with as many or more games remaining -- to climb into the top 10.

It's doable, and so Chivas believes.

“We're mathematically still alive,” defender Ante Jazic said after last week's 3-0 rout of Toronto FC gave the Goats their first victory since Aug. 6. “All of our games are at home, so there's no reason why we can't win every game. If we keep playing like we did tonight, with the same focus, I think we will be fine.”

There is no reason Chivas can't win every game -- even against Philly and, in the Galaxy and Seattle, MLS's top two clubs -- and that's the starting point for any realistic chance it has to make it into the postseason.

Three wins would give Chivas 44 points. Six clubs -- the Galaxy (64), Seattle (57), Real Salt Lake (51), FC Dallas (46), Sporting Kansas City (45) and Colorado (45) -- have already surpassed that total (L.A., Seattle and RSL have clinched playoff berths), and seven others can do so.

But let's say Philly (43), Houston (43), Columbus (41) and D.C. United (38) skidded to the finish. If ...

Chivas would leap over all four and into the postseason. In doing so, they could also race past Portland (37) and Chicago (37) -- like D.C., they're just outside the top 10 -- and maybe 10th-place New York (40), too.

Seventh place is within reach, although 10th would be just fine.

But lose to Philly, with Columbus beating or tying D.C. United and New York winning Tuesday over the Galaxy, and Chivas is eliminated from the race.

WORTH NOTING: Jazic (Canada), defender Michael Umaņa (Costa Rica) and forward Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela) depart after the game for international duty. Canada has World Cup qualifiers Friday against St. Lucia and Oct. 11 against Puerto Rico. Costa Rica takes on Brazil in a friendly Friday. Venezuela opens its World Cup qualifying campaign Friday at Ecuador and Oct. 11 at home against Argentina. ... Philadelphia leads the series, 2-0-1, after a 3-2 victory in this season's first meeting, June 25 in Chester, Pa., on Danny Mwanga's 82nd-minute goal. Umaņa gave Chivas a first-half lead, and Justin Braun pulled the Goats even in the 77th. ... Nick LaBrocca, who leads the Goats in scoring (8 goals, 6 assists), is the only player to have started all 31 Chivas league games. ... Michael Lahoud and Zarek Valentin face suspensions with their next yellow cards.

MISSING: Midfielder Ben Zemanski is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. ... Central midfielder Paulo Nagamura (broken foot) is out. ... Defender Heath Pearce (hamstring tear) has been downgraded to questionable. He returned in the Sept. 21 draw at D.C. United, then was held out of last week's victory over Toronto FC and was working with a trainer this week.

THE OPPONENT

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Head coach

Three key players

Current form/prospects

Local connections

Missing

THE GAME

At Home Depot Center (Carson), 5 p.m.
TV:
Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22
Radio: W Radio (XEWW/690, Spanish)
Referee: Michael Kennedy