Chivas USA hosted the Chicago Fire looking to turn their fortunes around on Saturday, and partially accomplished their goal in a 1-1 draw. The Goats went down in the 26th minute when Dominic Oduro ran past the Chivas defense on the left side and hit a tightly angled shot that beat Dan Kennedy. Chivas evened the score in the 46th minute when Nick LaBrocca hit a shot well outside the box while surrounded by Fire defenders.
How can Chivas assess this match? Let's take a look at the different perspectives:The Good: Chivas got a point in this match, and stopped their 3 game losing streak. They played pretty poorly in the first half, but they got back into the game in the 2nd and were able to find an equalizer. The defense was able to hold on for the draw, so they have to take some pride in that. And the brightest individual performance came from LaBrocca. Much like the June 1 game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, LaBrocca came out of the locker room motivated during the break and found a goal soon after the restart. I think LaBrocca has slipped into the background in recent weeks after Marcos Mondaini came back from suspension, but LaBrocca is having a career year and deserves the plaudits he's receiving.
The Bad: Chicago has improved their form since Frank Klopas stepped in as coach, but I think Chivas knew they could beat the Fire. They stopped the skid, and got a point, but coming into the match, with all the talk of turning the season around, it was still a rather disappointing performance. But as the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. They had several good chances to go up on Chicago as well, including a shot by LaBrocca that hit the crossbar in the 31st minute, and a one-on-one between Jorge Flores and Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson that Flores completely botched. Obviously, scoring a goal in his position was not a given, but Flores turned his body towards Johnson while he tried to chip his shot to Johnson's left. Because he ran right into the keeper, Flores couldn't get the shot off properly.
But the problems did not just come from Chivas' offensive failures. The Fire had several good chances that should have been goals, especially in the first half. Although he is having a good season, Chivas frankly made Oduro look like an all-star, as he ran rampant on the wing and clearly did not fear Chivas' defense. And Michael Umana's location in the box and the lucky bounce that went away from goal helped prevent Chicago from going up two goals. It was a lucky bounce, but one that put the defensive nerves on full display.
The Ugly: Oduro's goal was a nightmare to watch for a Chivas fan. Chivas gave up possession really easily, and Chicago took control quickly and found Oduro on the counter. He went on a long run, blew by Umana, and while Heath Pearce was probably following the tactical guidelines in hanging back to prevent a cross, Oduro was on a breakaway and there was no trailing runner in the vicinity. If Pearce had made more of an effort to stay with Oduro and double up on him, he probably would not have been able to get a shot off, or at least shoot so easily. Although Chivas weren't losing a lead through that goal, it was a gut-punch to watch from start to finish.
Another frightening development in the game was the look on Coach Robin Fraser's face. The cameras showed him in close-up and the local television commentators noticed the stress he was showing, and it was really off-putting. Some coaches are stone-faced, whether results are going their way or not. Other coaches scream and carry on and wear their emotions on their sleeves. Fraser belongs to the first group, but the way his face was distorting was strange. It probably doesn't have any real bearing on the season, but his pain was clear, even if he did not intend to show it.