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Chivas USA's struggles to start the season are about continuity and consistency more than anything else.
Continuity continues to challenge the Goats (0-2-2), who have had to use several players' versatility -- sometimes previously unmined -- to deal with an injury crisis in midfield and along the backline.
Despite the turmoil, Chivas at its best has dominated possession and created chances while playing solid team defense nearly everywhere on the field. The attack has sometimes suffered a lack of ideas or initiative, and individual errors have led to goal opportunities opponents have put away.
A first victory is the primary aim Saturday afternoon in Vancouver against the Whitecaps, but seeing real improvement in deficient areas is almost as important.
“In the situation we're in right now,” forward Alejandro Moreno said, “we need to focus on putting a good 90 minutes together … a consistent 90 minutes of a good, solid performance and a little continuity into our play, and hopefully that will translate into a good result.”
The expansion Whitecaps possess an attack that can cause Chivas' backline problems, so head coach Robin Fraser must decide whether he'd be better off with veteran Andy Boyens, rather than rookie Zarek Valentin, partnering converted outside back Heath Pearce in the middle.
Vancouver has surrendered 10 goals in five games, so here's an opportunity for the Goats, after just four goals in five games, to find their footing up front.
“If you look at the way we've played in spurts, I think we're very forward-thinking, kind of on the front foot,” Fraser said. “Whether [we're playing] Vancouver of somebody else, I think if we're very forward-thinking, we'll create a few opportunities.
“I think at times we've been our own worst enemies. We've not been poor, but in the final third, when we don't have that aggression, we become complacent and we don't create as many opportunities.”
INJURY LIST: Not much has changed. Midfielder Blair Gavin (hamstring strain) and forward Tristan Bowen (sprained ankle) are the only guys listed as out, but Jimmy Conrad (concussion) hasn't been cleared, and midfielder Paulo Nagamura (calf strain), also officially questionable, is at least a week away from getting into a game. Defender Seth Owusu isn't on the list, but an ankle injury is expected to keep him out.
Three key players
At Empire Stadium (Vancouver), 4 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: W Radio (XEWW/690)
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Reserve League: Sunday, 11 a.m., Empire Stadium