So the 2011 season is in the books, and it's time to shift to assessment time for Chivas USA. We'll be covering the season from a variety of angles, but today, let's go through the Goats' head-to-head record this season against the league's other 17 teams. With a balanced schedule, it was easy to see exactly where Chivas shined, found limited success, and foundered. Without further ado, let's find out how Chivas did against the competition in 2011.
Flying High: The Six Point Club
San Jose Earthquakes (38 points, 14th place): W 2-1 April 23; W 2-0 July 6
New England Revolution (28 points, 17th place): W 3-0 April 30; W 3-2 August 6
Continued after the jumpAll in all, pretty good: Four Point Club
Toronto FC (33 points, 16th place): D 1-1 April 2; W 3-0 September 24
New York Red Bulls (46 points, 10th place): W 3-2 May 15; D 0-0 July 16
Split the Series: Three Point Club
Portland Timbers (42 points, 12th place): W 1-0 June 4; L 1-0 August 24
Houston Dynamo (49 points, 7th place): L 2-1 June 11; W 3-0 July 23
Draws all Around: Two Point Club
Columbus Crew (47 points, 9th place): D 0-0 April 9; D 3-3 May 28
Vancouver Whitecaps (28 points, 18th place): D 0-0 April 16; D 1-1 June 1
One is Better Than None: One Point Club
Sporting Kansas City (51 points, 5th place): L 3-2 March 19; D 1-1 July 9
Colorado Rapids (49 points, 6th place): L 1-0 March 26; D 2-2 August 20
Philadelphia Union (48 points, 8th place): L 3-2 June 25; D 1-1 October 2
Chicago Fire (43 points, 11th place): D 1-1 July 2; L 3-2 September 17
Seattle Sounders (63 points, 2nd place): D 0-0 August 13; L 3-1 October 22
DC United (39 points, 13th place): L 3-0 September 10; D 2-2 September 21
Epic Fail: Zero Point Club
Real Salt Lake (53 points, 3rd place): L 1-0 May 7; L 1-0 August 27
Los Angeles Galaxy (67 points, 1st place): L 1-0 May 21; L 1-0 October 16
FC Dallas (52 points, 4th place): L 2-1 June 18; L 1-0 July 31
So what are the trends from this information? Chivas earned six, four, three, and two points to two teams each, making up eight of the 17 total opponents on the season. Unfortunately, that leaves nine teams, six of whom held Chivas to a point in each season series, and three that took all the points in the season against Chivas. Obviously, taking only six points in 18 games is a terrible return, something that makes Chivas' failure to make the playoffs pretty obvious.
But if we look at each category, we see some expected returns, some good surprises, and some bad surprises. It is not surprising that the Revolution was one of the teams that ceded six points to Chivas, as they were one of the few teams to finish below Chivas in the overall standings (for the record, Chivas finished with 36 points, in 15th place). The Earthquakes finished just above Chivas in the final standings, fair and square, but they were undoubtedly assisted by FC Dallas fielding a C-string lineup in the final day of the season, helping them win handily.
Toronto FC also finished below Chivas, so getting four points on them was good for the Goats this year. You could complain that they ought to have won their first match, but Chivas was in disarray carrying over from 2010 early in the season, and it was the first point of 2011 for them, helping them to exorcise the demons from last season. But one of the surprises was Chivas' season performance against the Red Bulls, with their surprise 3-2 win coming as the start of the problems for New York in the season. They followed that up with a drab scoreless draw in the second leg, and it represents a successful haul on the season against the Red Bulls.
Splitting the season series against both Portland and Houston is disappointing but ultimately just. In both cases, Chivas played a good match and a poor match against each team, so a season split is unsurprising. Since both teams finished above the Goats, then getting three points isn't bad. But I think despite the accomplishments of the Timbers and Dynamo this year, their teams are substantially flawed, and Chivas will have to look at these losses in particular as missed opportunities for points.
The same sentiment holds for Columbus. The first draw against the Crew was super-boring, but a good point early in the season for Chivas. But the second draw was a complete disappointment, as Chivas led repeatedly before allowing the Crew to tie it up again and again. It could have been a crucial two points, points that would not have qualified Chivas for the postseason, but would have given them the confidence that may have prevented a rough patch following that key match.
Meanwhile, the two-point return against Vancouver is ultimately the biggest disappointment of the season. How could they only get two points against the team that finished last in the league? Again, the first draw came as Chivas were figuring out how to play under Robin Fraser, but the second draw represented a major missed opportunity for Chivas to get another two key points for the season.
What is most worrisome is that Chivas only earned one point each against six clubs. All of those clubs finished ahead of Chivas in the standings, but still, a playoff-caliber team cannot expect to get six points total against six teams. Perhaps the only cause for optimism is that against four of the six opponents in this group Chivas drew the second match, demonstrating improvement upon the second meeting.
While no team wants to lose all points against any teams, the faint silver lining for Chivas concerning the teams that took full points against them is that it was only three teams, and those teams were the 1st, 3rd, and 4th place teams. Obviously, Chivas need to strive for more consistency and a better quality of play, but it is better I suppose that their asses are being handed to them by the best teams, rather than mediocre opponents, right?
What's your take on Chivas' performance this season against their MLS opponents? Leave a comment below!