Chivas USA Fall To Real Salt Lake, Held Scoreless For 4th Straight Game
But maybe there’s something else. Despite the drubbing at the hands of an Alvaro Saborio hat trick and an 81st-minute Paolo Jr. strike, Chivas (7-16-7), which sits dead last in the Western Conference with 28 points (11 behind Vancouver with only four games left in the season), still has the faintest hope of making the MLS playoffs.
But tonight’s dismal showing put an end to what is arguably the most miserable month in Chivas USA’s eight-year history.
Head coach Robin Fraser, who was back on the sidelines after serving a two-game suspension for arguing with the match official after a 1-0 loss at Columbus, admitted that no one’s job was safe after the season.
“I’m not naive,” Fraser said after the game. “It’s a results-oriented business. Everything will be evaluated, including the coaching staff.”
And recent results speak for themselves. Chivas lost all six matches it played during September and is winless in 10 straight while being outscored 28–7. The team is also enduring a woeful four-game scoreless streak.
Meanwhile, the stellar Saborio now holds Salt Lake’s single-season scoring record with 17 goals, surpassing Jeff Cunningham’s 2006 mark of 16. The 30-year-old Costa Rican is now five goals shy of MLS leading-scorer Chris Wondolowski of San Jose, who has 22 already this season.
To put those tallies into perspective, Chivas’ leading scorer this year, Juan Pablo Angel, has only four goals.
Saborio’s haul propelled Salt Lake (16-11-5) into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference with 52 points, three above the LA Galaxy, who play at Colorado Sunday evening. Real Salt Lake and LA will face off at the Home Depot Center on Oct. 6.
Saborio had a pair of goals less than 12 minutes into the game, and he didn’t have to do much for either of them thanks to some sloppy play in the back from Chivas.
Saborio deferred his post-game praise to his strike partner.
“I think he’s the man of the match,” Saborio said. “I’m proud of him.”
Saborio’s second goal may have been easier than the first. In the 11th minute, Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy rolled a lazy pass to defender John Valencia that was intercepted by Espindola, who then found Saborio alone in front of a wide-open net.
But Chivas was able to create chances in the first half and actually forced Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando into six saves on the night.
Chivas right-winger Miller Bolaños was the team’s biggest threat, and he could have nabbed a goal back quickly for the Goats in the 18th minute when he found space on the right side of the Salt Lake penalty area. The shot was fired across goal but knocked over the crossbar by Rimando.
Bolaños was active again in the 32nd minute when he sent in a low cross for Peter Vagenas. The midfielder crouched down for what would have been a free header in front of goal, but he couldn’t make contact. The ball sailed harmlessly wide.
A few minutes later, Bolanos’ long-range effort from the top of the penalty area was tipped away by Rimando a split second before crossing the goal line in the bottom right corner.
But like so many other nights this season, it was not to be for Chivas. The team has only scored 21 goals in 30 games.
Saborio capped off his hat trick in the 65th minute after Kennedy rushed out to save a shot by midfielder Will Johnson. The ball ricocheted off the goalkeeper and straight to Saborio at the edge of the penalty area. He then chipped a 20-yard shot over the helpless Kennedy, who made a last-ditch attempt to make the save but could only watch the ball drop slowly into the net.
Espindola also set up Real Salt Lake’s fourth, finding substitute Paulo Jr. on the right side of the penalty area on a counter attack with nine minutes left in the game. The Brazilian then blasted the ball past Kennedy from about 12 yards out.
Chivas defender and team captain Danny Califf was forthright in his assessment of the team’s performance.
“At the end of the day it's just not good enough in a bunch of aspects, and we're getting punished for every single one we don't do well enough,” Califf said.
With only four games left in the season, Chivas has to be good enough every time out from now on, while also hoping for a Vancouver collapse if the team has any chance of making the playoffs as the fifth and final seed.
The teams will face each other Wednesday night, however, at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada.