Chivas, which stands last in the West with a 6-16-6 record, is currently in limbo as it prepares for a Sunday date in Toronto. The Los Angeles-based side has been taken over by the league and commissioner Don Garber says the team might not play in 2015 and perhaps longer, with the timing to be decided after a new owner takes over.
And nobody seems to care.
The Goats are floundering in near obscurity, averaging 6,942 fans per game. That's by far the league's worst attendance — almost 12,000 under the MSL average — but still a number that reportedly flatters the fans actually in attendance at the StubHub Center.
"It's very hard to get ourselves motivated in a way," acknowledged Chivas midfielder Eric Avila, who spent 1 1/2 seasons at Toronto FC. "Even though we appreciate whoever comes out (for home games), it's very difficult."
"We haven't really heard much," he added. "We know that there's a lot of meetings going on. And that's all they tell us. The guys are just trying to stick together and trying to finish out the season strong."
The next challenge comes at BMO Field against a Toronto FC side struggling to reverse a slide of its own.
Toronto manager Greg Vanney, a former Chivas assistant coach looking for his first win at the Toronto helm after two losses and a tie, says the uncertainty at Chivas can be a powerful motivator.
"When that happens you have 20-something guys who are trying to figure out what their future looks like and they may have something to prove for each of them individually," he said. "It makes them very unpredictable."
Added Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley: "Knowing some of their players, knowing their coach (Wilmer Cabrera) a little bit, they will still be a team that's going to be committed and fighting until the very end."
At least Avila knows where his future lies. A transfer to Mexico's Santos Laguna is nearing completion.
The Chivas numbers are remarkably bleak.
The team has lost five straight and given up three or more goals in four of those contests. It is winless in 10 (0-9-1), during which time it has been outscored 24-3. It ranks worst in the league in goals, assists, shots and shots on goal.
Chivas has scored just 23 goals with 14 of those coming from Mexican international striker Erick Torres, who is suspended for the Toronto game. Midfielders Marvin Chavez and Marco Delgado are next on the Chivas scoring list with two goals apiece.
Of course, the Toronto picture isn't much better.
Toronto (9-11-7) is winless in six (0-4-2) and has won just three of its last 16 (3-7-6). It's worth noting that Chivas' record over the same period is 4-10-2.
While Chivas has nothing to lose, Toronto FC needs a win to stop a six-game winless streak and painful slide down the Eastern Conference standings.
A Toronto loss coupled with a Houston win over Philadelphia would drop TFC to eighth place. And wins by teams above would then widen the gap between Toronto and the five playoff berths available in the East.
Vanney can look forward this weekend to the possible return of defender/captain Steven Cadwell (quad) and midfielder Jonathan Osorio (hamstring). Midfielder Collen Warner (hamstring) is listed as unavailable.
There is also some light at the end of the Jermain Defoe tunnel with the England striker, who has been nursing a groin injury back in England, expected back at the club Monday. Still Vanney says Defoe, who leads the team with 11 goals despite missing 11 games through injury or suspension, may not see action until the Oct. 4 game in Los Angeles.
A win would be timely for Toronto, which plans Tuesday to celebrate the groundbreaking for a planned stadium expansion.
While only the Seattle Sounders (42,238) average more fans than Toronto (22,591), there were plenty of empty seats at the last home game — a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia — despite the announced full house. And a 5-6-2 record at home isn't much of an incentive to show up or buy a seat in an expanded stadium.
That may have prompted Bradley to speak up this week, urging fans to get behind the team in the final stretch.
But Avila says a fervent Toronto crowd may also spur on Chivas.
"To be able to play away, I think the atmosphere and all that, it helps us out even more. And to try to take some points away from some teams, it satisfies for sure," he said.
While Toronto is running out of games, with just six left after the weekend, Bradley says he sees a change in attitude.
He points to the team's fightback in Chicago last weekend, a 1-1 tie that would have been a 2-1 win for Toronto had it not be for a controversial refereeing decision in the 90th minute.
"From the players' standpoint, Saturday was, I think, a turning point," said Bradley. "Just in the sense of coming off a few negative results, it would have been easy especially at the end of that game to think 'You know what, this is just another one of these nights where it's not going to happen.'
"The commitment and the determination on our end to be relentless until the last second, I think we set the bar for ourselves."
Chivas, meanwhile, will be eliminated from playoff contention if it loses to Toronto and the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
NOTES — Chivas holds a 9-2-1 all-time edge over Toronto ... Like Vanney, Toronto's assistant coaches have ties to Chivas. Nick Theslof, Dan Calichman and Jim Liston all worked at Chivas in the past while Jon Conway played there in 2009. Toronto forward Luke Moore also had a brief stint with the Goats earlier this season ... Toronto's Bradley and Justin Morrow face suspension with their next yellow card.
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