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May 25, 2013
Chivas USA's losing streak hits four, winless skid hits seven in 2-0 defeat at Colorado

By Scott French
LA Soccer News Contributing Editor

Chivas USA's troubles seem without end following another shutout defeat, the Goats' fourth in a row on the road and fifth in a seven-game winless streak that shows no sign of abatement.

Atiba Harris scored in the 11th minute and Nathan Sturgis added an insurance goal in the 78th as the Colorado Rapids, in control from start to finish, claimed a 2-0 triumph in Commerce City, Colo., extending their unbeaten stretch to five games -- they've fallen just once in the last nine -- while sending Chivas to its fourth successive loss.

Chivas managed just five shots and no more than a couple of legitimate goal chances while trying out a new alignment -- the tried-and-true 4-4-2 -- and welcoming back dominant holding midfielder Oswaldo Minda, a second-half substitute, for the first time since March 30 against Vancouver, the club's last victory.

It's been a tough go for the Goats, who have been outscored, 13-1, in their losing streak and have struggled to compete.

It's not quite as bad as last year's end-of-season spiral, when Chivas was winless in its last 14 games, with a seven-game losing streak (featuring six shutouts) tucked in.

“It's one of those stretches that you look back in your career, and you remember these, and it hurts,” defender Bobby Burling said. “It's not the first time that it's happened, and it's not the last time that it'll happen, but it's definitely a tough stretch, and the meetings we have, it's only the people in the locker room that can change it.

“It's us together, and we're trying to push forward in this thing as much as the next person. We've got to stay together, we've got to keep fighting for each other, and, hopefully, along the way we'll get some bounces. We just talked about it now: It's a breakdown of two or three plays a game, and that's what it's coming down to right now.”

Head coach Jose Luis “Chelis” Sanchez Sola, who after last week's loss to Real Salt Lake suggested his team was not capable of competing in the Western Conference, at least not at the moment, said he was “very, very happy with these players,” a recurring theme in his postgame comments.

“Because all [11] players played with the same, one idea,” he said. “I put the idea and all the game they played to this idea. Lose, but one idea. It wasn't like one player played to 4-4-2, another player played in another system. All the players played to one idea.

“I am very, very happy. But they need more. They need support from other people. Nobody in this group support these players. The only guy that they have is [me]. Very difficult.”

Chelis didn't specify what he meant by “this group,” but he appears to be knocking the support from owner Jorge Vergara, which he also knocked after the loss to RSL.

The Mexican coach does seem to making adjustments, finally. His favored 3-5-2 hasn't worked, especially during the skid, and -- aside from New England's success a half-decade or so ago -- hasn't fared well in this league. The swap to a 4-4-2, even with Walter Vilchez out of the 18 a week after returning from a knee injury, is a step forward.

“The past Monday, in the [MLS Reserve League game against RSL], we didn't have players and we put forward [a] 4-4-2. And [I] saw that these players were happier. They felt nicer. So we put this [today].”

Chivas defended better in the new alignment, but not well enough. Colorado's speed caused problems, and both goals arrived on quick, stunning sequences that left the Goats a good step behind.

The first, which wrapped with three first-time balls, started with Martin Rivero playing forward to rookie Deshorn Brown, who held off Carlos Borja to feed Chris Klute on the left wing. Klute's low cross into the middle of the box found Harris running ahead of Josue Soto, and he buried the ball inside the right post.

Sturgis' strike was almost a mirror image. Marvell Wynne played the ball forward to Edson Buddle, just above the box, and Buddle fed Brian Mullan on the right flank. Mullan then led Brown into Chivas' box -- the right side gaping -- and Brown caught up with the ball near the byline and ripped a cross into the goalmouth. Sturgis got a step on Borja to blast it home.

Things get no easier for the Goats. In league play, they've got Seattle next weekend, before an international break, then play at Vancouver on June 19 and against the Galaxy on June 23. They'll look for a rare victory Tuesday night at Cal State Fullerton, against the USL Pro's L.A. Blues in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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