Remember the last time Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy played? Chad Barrett scored and Chivas looked out of joint in the first half. The Goats held better possession in the second half, but they couldn't get good chances on goal all game.
Tonight's game could be explained in the exact same way. Barrett scored in the second half this time, but he got the winner in the 53rd minute and Chivas just couldn't get out of their own way. I think Chivas have had ups and downs this year, but I would argue they have improved overall during the course of the season. But this performance was eerily similar to the previous one with the Galaxy, so it looks like no progress has been made. That's a shame for the MLS fans who were taking in one of the few Chivas games shown on national English-language TV this season. But if the team can't rise to the occasion, then the perceptions about this club will not change.
Let's go over some of the talking points coming from this match:Boyens looked good tonight: He was a bit lucky on the defensive end, but Andrew Boyens looked great tonight. He was one of the top players on a subpar game overall for Chivas. He had two close-range clearances in the first six minutes, and his goal line clearance in the first minute, although fortunate, changed the course of the match and allowed Chivas to stay in the game far longer than they probably deserved. In addition to generally good defensive play, Boyens also had a couple of chances on headers on the offensive end, although both were wide. This performance did not alter my belief that Boyens should have been the starting center back in place of Michael Umana for much of the season. I am not a coach, I do not know what could be happening behind the scenes, but Boyens seems like he should get the spot ahead of Umana. He should get that anyway with Umana's knee injury likely to sideline him next week in the season finale against the Seattle Sounders.
Defense was shaky again: Although they only allowed one goal, and Boyens played pretty well, the defense was collectively shaky and if it wasn't for the multiple wasted chances by Barrett and Adam Cristman, this could have been a rout within 15 minutes. Marking was poor, allowing the forwards to make runs on through balls. Had better finishers been on the field for the Galaxy, I shudder to think what would have happened. Since it's two losses and Chivas' losing streak in the LA derby continues, we can't really spin this into a moral victory. Chivas' defense was shaky, often lucky, and fortunate to only give up one goal. It was a tough night for the backline.
...And the offense didn't pull its weight: There have been games where either the defense or offense sinks the team, and games when both ends are mired in futility. This game was the latter. There was no creativity on the offensive end, no rhythm for the attack. Chivas held possession well in the second half, but it was on the edges of the field and in the middle third. Marcos Mondaini and Laurent Courtois looked like they could put in good service, but there was nobody in position to get their crosses. Juan Pablo Angel did not have a good night, although he worked hard and had a couple of half-chances in the last 10 minutes of the match. I think Alejandro Moreno was basically irrelevant on the night, and the team could have used Justin Braun's work with his back to goal in order to free up JPA, but Braun missed out with an injury. All in all, the Galaxy's quality in defense really put the Chivas' attack off balance all night, and they didn't look like they were coming within a mile of scoring.
Looking ahead: There's one more match in 2011 for Chivas: next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, who currently have the second-best record in the league behind the Galaxy. While Chivas weren't blown out tonight, they'll really need to step up next week against whatever lineup the Sounders trot out in order to get a result. The Galaxy played a weakened lineup and that didn't change the result, so no guarantee that a weakened Sounders lineup will improve Chivas' chances substantially. Let's all hope the Goats end the season on a positive note next week.
And for some good news: Congrats to the Union Ultras Supporters Group, who defeated the Angel City Brigade 1-0 in the Barra Clasico Saturday. At least Chivas' supporters are maintaining a winning streak against the Galaxy, with six in a row. Well done!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!