Chivas USA’s Disappointing Form Results in US Open Cup Loss
Chivas USA’s promising U.S. Open Cup campaign came to a staggering end yesterday in their 4-1 defeat away to the Seattle Sounders. This match comes after a horrid home draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps over the weekend. The Goats were playing for a spot in the USOC final, something the team has never done before in franchise history. With a good run into the semi, the team had a good chance to vie for the title. However, their unfortunate summer form got the better of them. Not to discredit the play of the Sounders, Chivas USA was unable to find a good rhythm until late in the second half after Seattle had already scored 2 goals.
Both teams started off slow, but the Sounders were able to find their footing and gain possession after about 20 minutes. An Eddie Johnson goal put the Sounders up in the 31st minute after a defensive lapse from the Chivas USA backline. The goal was followed up with a couple more attempts from the Sounders and some terrific saves, yet again, from Dan Kennedy. Chivas USA had ZERO shots on goal in the first half.
The second half got off to a shaky start for the Goats, with Raushawn McKenzie fouling Fredy Montero in the box in the 48th minute and conceding a penalty kick. Play continued to be choppy for the Goats. They were able to get possession together, and control the ball as the half went forward. Substitute Cesar Romero helped put the team on the scoreboard in the 74th minute, but this ended up being futile when the Sounders scored a third in the 83rd. The game was all but over, but the Sounders scored again in the 88th, this time being from Sammy Ochoa. The Goats had only 4 shots on target at the end of the match.
One thing that continues to plague the team, as it has all season, is the lack of offensive threat. Going forward, Chivas USA continue to have difficulty being dangerous, especially in the final third of the field. There was very limited service up to forwards Juan Pablo Angel and Alejandro Moreno. I do have to say that I am not a huge fan of those two playing together when there is little speed behind them for support. Oswaldo Minda has the ability to provide the service, but not the speed as someone like Ryan Smith. Zemanski seemed to be providing more chances for the two, but he is the holding midfielder. And, while Blair Gavin helps with the offensive chances, he doesn’t have the necessary speed to get up the field as often as the team needs in these situations. That leaves Paolo Cardozo, who doesn’t really do anything. He was the weakest link in the midfield yesterday. I don’t think I can think of one instant where he was good. Look at the OPTA stats on the MLS website, and you will see that his unsuccessful passes, dribbles, crosses, and tackles against total were significantly greater than any successful stats.
Also, what does Ryan Smith have to do to get Robin Fraser to start him? Paolo Cardozo, acquired from the LA Galaxy earlier this season, has been starting in midfield for the past few games and being utterly disappointing. Every time Smith has graced the field, he has created chances, posed a strong threat going forward, and has used his speed to tire out defenders. I understand the desire to use him as a sub in the second half when defenders are tiring out, but coming in at the 85th minute when the team is down 2 goals doesn’t allow him any time to affect any change. On top of that, Cardozo was a mess (and has been in every game he’s played). One reason, and the only reason, I can foresee why he hasn’t started recently is because of the injury to Ante Jazic. Smith has generally played in front of him, and since he’s been injured, Jorge Villafana has taken his place. Villafana likes to roam forward more than Jazic, and plays less of a defensive role. However, when comparing the defensive capabilities of Smith to Cardozo, it is obvious that Smith is better at tracking back and covering when his defender is roaming forward. I don’t think I saw a single play yesterday when Cardozo tracked back as Villafana moved forward. Ben Zemanski was forced to move back repeatedly to provide coverage (not that he is bad at that, but it’s a team effort after all).
At this point I would just be repeating what I’ve written for the past few posts. Lack of offense is making it difficult for the defense and Dan Kennedy to do what they need. Yes some of the blame from yesterday should be placed on the defense (I mean, McKenzie, what was that foul that conceded the PK? Unnecessary, that’s what), however, without anything being generated out of the midfield, the job of the defenders becomes that much harder.
Chivas USA now has a week off before a midweek clash against the Portland Timbers next Wednesday. They then face the LA Galaxy in another leg of the SuperClasico. Hopefully they can pull it together and get back to their May form.