Focus is key

Chivas USA poised on potential play-off run

Heath Pearce Portland

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At the half-way point of the season, first-year Head Coach Robin Fraser says his Chivas USA squad has shown flashes of forming a team identity that will no doubt continue to make the rojiblancos a dangerous team when the playoff stretch comes around.

Though a record of 4-7-6 might not indicate it, Chivas has battled the top teams in the league on the pitch but been on the short end of hotly-contested one-goal differential matches.

Perhaps one of the only things missing, he says, is more self assertion.

“In terms of developing an identity, I think certainly we’ve seen it,” Fraser said. “In times throughout the season we’ve seen it with more conviction.”

Chivas players after Saturday’s 1-1 tie against Chicago echoed that sentiment of being on the verge of breaking through and being a legitimate contender in the playoffs.

Frustration, however, over not closing out more victories is clearly on some of the key players’ minds. Fraser’s team is not one to rest on moral victories, and as such, remain hungry in search of more W’s.

“I feel like the group has a great understanding of what we’re doing collectively as a group,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. “We need to make sure that that focus is there for 90 minutes.”

Evidently, the players and coaches in that locker room are not the only ones who see a dangerous team on the verge of turning the corner going into the second half of the season.

“Every team that we’ve played this year, the players have said how good of a team we are,” said defender Heath Pearce. “But our points, obviously, don’t show it. I think it’s that extra one or two percent of concentration that’s really going to turn this [season] around.”

With over a dozen games remaining, Chivas remains within striking distance of many of the teams ahead of them in the Western Conference.

And the support for this year’s squad continues to be endorsed by team owner Antonio Cue, who after Saturday’s match said the organization remains confident in the team’s ability. “It’s a team foundation very much steeped in [Mexican soccer] tradition, but that plays in the US,” said Cue. “It’s a young team that’s going to be very similar in their success.”