Chivas USA hosted the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center, and the two teams played to a 0-0 draw. It wasn't the most exciting of games, and there were long stretches of poor body language and players looking like they were going through the motions. But there were also a handful of chances, and good performances for both of the goalkeepers, including new NYRB signing Frank Rost, so they can take pride in holding up their ends of the bargain for their respective teams. As a result of the draw, Chivas will hold pace in the standings in 6th place in the Western Conference, while the Red Bulls move into first place in the Eastern Conference, which may change after Philadelphia's game tomorrow. And Chivas are now on a 4-game unbeaten streak, although admittedly three of those games were draws. So what are some of the key points coming out of this game?
Kennedy carries the team for a second consecutive game: Dan Kennedy has shown all season his class as the Goats' keeper. But the last two games, he's had to cover for a shaky defense and make some big stops. Although he didn't have a game as exceptional as last week's against Sporting Kansas City, he didn't face as many shots, and took care of pretty much everything New York sent his way. He did benefit from a couple of near misses wide of the goal, especially by Juan Agudelo, who started in place of the injured Luke Rodgers. He also was willing to get in his defenders faces, as he yelled at Zarek Valentin after a shot whizzed wide of the goal, and I think an occasional outburst can really be effective for a goalkeeper (as opposed to constant yelling that some goalkeepers prefer). He should have a higher profile around the league, but the dull play and Spanish-language TV coverage probably mitigated any exposure he should have gotten around the country from playing the Red Bulls.Chivas body language was bad: I'm not sure exactly why, and I don't want to get too metaphysical about this, but the Goats spent a lot of time throwing their hands up, stomping when the passes didn't reach their targets, and barking at each other, the referee and the Red Bulls. I think the attacking players in particular were upset that they weren't quite clicking when it seemed like they could beat New York, but I don't think having a bad attitude is really the right approach. To be fair, New York showed equally bad body language, so maybe the clubs were rubbing off on each other and having an off night.
Lahoud out, Trujillo in: Perhaps he quietly picked up an injury, but it appeared Michael Lahoud was substituted out for Mariano Trujillo in the 38th minute for personnel reasons. Early indications were that Lahoud was benched by Robin Fraser because he was unsatisfied with his play, and not even waiting until the break to pull Lahoud off was pretty damning if it is true. This is a developing story, so there may be an explanation and it may blow over, but Lahoud may find himself farther down the depth chart for the near future after his performance tonight. And maybe this will represent an opportunity for Trujillo to get some more playing time.
The stars were not out: Henry played like he was killing time before clubbing in Hollywood. Agudelo worked hard, but he and Henry spent much of the match way back trying to pick up possession. For Chivas, Justin Braun worked hard, but he didn't get a sniff of goal and looked majorly frustrated all night. And grassroots all-star Nick LaBrocca had a quiet night, which wasn't a surprise necessarily to me as I knew New York would be following him closely. He had two shots in the second half that were both turning curling shots to the upper corner of goal, but both were off target.
In fact, Chivas' best chance came in injury time when a corner kick bounced off New York defender Carlos Mendes but goalkeeper Frank Rost was able to save it on the line. The only other quality chance came near the end of the first half when Jorge Flores had a one-on-one with Rost but his shot bounced off the post. I love Flores, but his breakaway speed and smart positioning will be wasted if he can't score on those chances. All in all, it was a pretty frustrating night for the Goats' attack (not to mention the Red Bulls' attack).
This game demonstrates the need to make upgrades in the transfer window: More is coming on this next week, but despite holding on for a nervy draw and picking up 4 points on the season to one of the top sides in the league, Chivas need to pick up some players who can make an immediate impact. The defense has only allowed 2 goals in the last 4 games, with two clean sheets, but the quiet confidence that they had earlier in the season is not there right now. A good defender, especially a good center back, would really help the Goats, but the biggest need is a goalscorer, somebody who can be counted on to score in volume, which is a major problem for the current team. Reportedly, changes are on the horizon, so let's hope the scouting and coaching staff is doing their homework to get impact players very soon.
Random thought: Speaking with a Red Bulls fan after the game, we wondered if these teams would meet in the playoffs this year. I know Chivas have work to do to make it, but it just feels like this matchup is inevitable, doesn't it?
Looking ahead: Chivas will host the Houston Dynamo next Saturday at home. They lost 2-1 on June 11 in the previous meeting, so they will be looking to split the season series with Houston.