Chivas USA: Get it Together Goats!
Wednesday’s home win against the Portland Timbers ended a poor run of form for Chivas USA and brought promise to the team heading into Saturday’s Superclasico matchup against the LA Galaxy. However, an extremely poor first half set the stage for the 4-1 loss to the cross town rivals.
The Goats came out on Wednesday with a bit of a different lineup – Ryan Smith was inserted for Blair Gavin, with Alejandro Moreno as the lone striker. John Valencia also started in the defense for Raushawn McKenzie, though this seemed to be more of a rest thing with the Superclasico coming up. The team got off to a promising start, scoring an early goal in the 15th minute. Ryan Smith charged forward and passed the ball along the front of goal to Miller Bolaños who tapped it in. Of course I picked that moment to go to the bathroom at the Home Depot Center and missed it happen live. Nothing else really happened to speak of, and the match ended 1-0. I felt that it was a promising performance leading up to Saturday’s game as they showed some offensive sparks that had previously been missing.
This of course was all stymied in their second match of the week. Let me just start with the conclusion: the team needs a better playmaker. There were two large problems in this match: the lack of precision in passing, and the lack of moving the ball forward. The constant turnovers and messy passes led to basically all the goals the Galaxy scored. Sure, these types of mistakes could work against Portland, but not a team like the Galaxy who has such a strong offensive unit. They consistently picked up on our mistakes and pressured the defense and Dan Kennedy. When we did have the ball, our CAMs (I’m looking at you Blair Gavin) could do nothing with it. Our most promising moments came when Gavin was taken off for Paolo Cardozo, when the fullbacks had the opportunity to push forward, or when the holding midfielder Ben Zemanski had a couple of tries. None of these were consistent nor did the really result in much of anything (as evident by the score line).
The lack of moving the ball forward also goes along with this. Both Miller Bolaños and Ryan Smith (especially Smith) were often times left roaming forward with no one feeding them the ball. There was no vision from the midfield component to get the ball up the field and into the final third. Of course this goes back to the lack of precision with passing and maintaining the ball, but it needs to be mentioned that they were just left to fend for themselves up there, especially in those few moments when the ball was up there.
I’m not really sure where this team goes from here. We’ve reached the middle of the season, and nothing has really changed. They had a good chance to make some moves in the standings with the game and really put the pressure on for that fifth place/playoff position. Yes there are games in hand. However, if play continues like this, does it really matter? Players need to step up. Blair Gavin and Nick LaBrocca, I’m looking at you. Blair, live up to that promise. Nick, please give us the 2011 version of you. It will start there. The forwards are trying their hardest. I also want to take a moment to talk about how great Ben Zemanski has been. He is putting in the work and effort to not only do his job, but also try and get the ball forward. It’s not his position or job to do so, but when others are slacking he tries. This was really evident in the US Open Cup match against Seattle, and again in both games last week. I’ve always been a fan of his, and am glad to see him getting the minutes and really contributing to this team. But again, it’s a team. The effort and workmanship needs to be put in from everyone, not just individuals.
We can continue talking about how great Dan Kennedy is, and how he saves this team, week in and week out. However, I think it’s time we move past that. As much as I enjoy talking about how great Kennedy is, we need to now shift the attention to how the rest of the team can do their part in helping him. It shouldn’t be his job to save our butts every time. It’s his job to fix minor wounds, not stop major bleeding. Get it together Goats!