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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Chivas USA

The Goats are winless in their last seven games.

Brandon Wade - Getty Images

Three more games to go. That's all FC Dallas ha to focus on at the moment, just three more games.

The first of those three come this Sunday against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center is Los Angeles.

Chivas has already been eliminated from playoff contention and are in the battle with Toronto FC for the bottom spot in the overall league standings (though it seems the Reds are in good position to win that Wooden Spoon this season).

Head coach Robin Fraser has had a tough go of things as of late with just two wins since the start of July, both coming in a short span against the Portland Timbers back in mid-to-late July. Since then Chivas has lost nine out of their last 11 games, including seven in a row. Of those last seven games, Chivas has scored only one goal and has been outscored 18-1 in that time.

Chivas is entering this game with the worst offense in Major League Soccer, scoring an astounding 21 goals this season. San Jose's Chris Wondolowski has scored more goals this season than they have as a team. Yikes.

Chivas up front

It's weird to think that an offense with the likes if Juan Pablo Angel, Juan Agudelo, Miller Bolanos, Nick LaBrocca, Shalrie Joseph, and Alejandro Moreno would be so weak. But they are. Angel leads Chivas this season with four goals while Agudelo and Bolanos lead the way in the assist department with three each.

Fraser has tried nearly every combination as of late to get his offense going. He has switched up his formations, his attack and so far nothing new seems to work. Chivas has played a 4-4-2 formation, a 4-2-3-1 formation and even a 4-1-4-1 kind of formation.

Typically you'll see Bolanos on the wing for Chivas. He may be the one guy that has any sort of idea of what is going on these days for the offense. LaBrocca, a former All-Star is also another guy to keep an eye on in the midfield as he does bring a certain spark to the attack that other do not.

Up front Chivas either goes with Angel and Moreno, Moreno and Agudelo, Angel and Agudelo or just Angel. Rookie Casey Townsend is another option in the attack.

Midfield struggling to find shape

When you switch up a formation and starts from game to game like Fraser has had to do, the game seems to get lost in the midfield. On Wednesday against Vancouver, Chivas had very little shape in the midfield until LaBrocca came on in the second half and helped open things up for them.

Should Fraser stick with the same kind of formation that he used on Wednesday, a 4-4-2 diamond, Dallas will be wise to follow the same sort of plan that Vancouver did and play wide with speed. Chivas didn't seem to have an answer on the wings to Dane Richards and Camilio, both of which found the back of the net.

Dallas will want to play with speed on the wings with Brek Shea and Jackson. Also, if for some reason the score isn't in Dallas' favor late in the game, having Fabian Castillo off the bench will be huge. A burner like Castillo late in the games is going to be tough to deal with from Chivas' standpoint.

Defensive struggles

With the ever-changing formations, Chivas has seen plenty of struggles in the back in front of keeper Dan Kennedy. Ante Jazic and James Riley have been two constants in their defense this season while guys like Danny Califf, Joseph, Raushawn McKenzie and John Valencia have all split time in the center of the defense.

This group is talent but given the midfield struggles in front of them, they've been very leaky as of late. Chivas has the second highest goals against number in the league with 53 against, just a few behind Toronto's 59.

Again, Vancouver drew up the blueprint to scoring on Chivas. The Goats haven't seen David Ferreira or Blas Perez this season, so Dallas would be wise to follow the script of last week's game in San Jose and give Chivas a steady dose of both players in the middle of the field.

Perez appears to be back to scoring goals as his brace last week was just what this club needs for the final three games.

Kennedy is a solid keeper though, Dallas found that out back in June when the Goats visited FCD Stadium. The net minder made several key stops in that match, including a couple good ones on Shea. Beating Kennedy isn't always easy but sometimes he allows very simple goals.

Final Thoughts

The term must-win has been thrown out a bunch this season in regards to this FC Dallas team, but it would be a huge understatement to not say it once more. This game is a must-win! Dallas will want to do exactly what Vancouver did on Wednesday and run up the score. The more goal the better as Chivas has little to play for this season and will likely be going threw a huge roster change this winter. Some guys will be playing for their 2013 season hopes while others are just wanting to finish out this month and go into the winter break.

Dallas has the talent and the need for three points to get the job done here. They can't over look Chivas though, especially since it is at Chivas. They need to keep the pressure on the Whitecaps here and hope that they'll stumble in their next game against Portland to give FCD the chance to make the final weekend of the season to be one for all the marbles.