The objective was to get three points, and Chivas USA got the job done, winning 3-2 against the New England Revolution Saturday. But it was not a dominant performance for the Goats by any means, and frankly the Revs were a bit unlucky to not get the draw. This will not be a game for Chivas fans to replay for the good memories, but sometimes, a team needs to grind out a victory, and that's exactly what happened here.
Chivas opened the scoring in the 31st minute, as Simon Elliott had a terrific cross-field pass to a waiting Nick LaBrocca, who crossed it to Alejandro Moreno, who got in the mix in the box and came out with the goal. It was his fourth goal of the season and the first since he returned from the Copa America. After going up a goal into the half, Chivas doubled their lead on a counterattack, with Nick LaBrocca making a long run through the midfield, getting the ball, and slicing past the defense for the goal in the 59th minute. It is LaBrocca's seventh goal for the season. Following that, New England found a spark with a Penalty awarded for Heath Pearce evidently clipping Diego Fagundez in the box. Shalrie Joseph stepped up and buried the penalty kick, and the score was 2-1 in the 69th minute. Then Chivas got another counterattack goal in the 80th minute, as Moreno made another run through New England's defense and slotted home the goal for the 3-1 score. But New England weren't willing to give up and Fagundez scored his first MLS goal in the 86th minute to finish the scoring. Chivas were able to hang on for the last few minutes, and get a big road win.
Below, some of the talking points coming out of the game.Welcome back Ale: Moreno provided a huge spark in this game, especially as Justin Braun was largely ineffective. Robin Fraser made a shrewd decision to go back to the 4-4-2 formation in order to get Moreno on the field, and he showed why he belonged on his two goals. He also contributed his unique skills to the game, as he drew some fouls and disrupted the New England possession a few times in the match. I still don't think Moreno is the answer to Chivas' forward woes, as he wasn't always effective before he left for the Copa America, but his return demonstrates his quality, and he was one of the men of the match for the Goats.
Kennedy shines again: Dan Kennedy may have let in two goals, but one was a penalty, so you can't hold it against him, and the other was an absolute screamer from Fagundez. Put simply, Kennedy played the biggest role in the win, as he was under siege for nearly the entire second half. As the defense became collectively shaky and the midfield forgot how to hold on to the ball, Kennedy stepped up and made save after save after save to bail Chivas out. People who watch Chivas week in and week out know how good Kennedy is, and he is really having a fantastic season. Even Grant Wahl gave him a shout out on twitter. Maybe another grassroots campaign giving Kennedy the proper plaudits is in order, a la Nick LaBrocca? I think so, and not to take anything away from Bill Hamid, but is he really better than Kennedy and more deserving of a U.S. National Team call up?
Nick shows why he's the star: The other Chivas player coming out of the victory looking good is of course NIck the Quick. A goal and an assist demonstrates his importance to this team once again. The guy is not letting the all-star selection and extra attention get to his head, and let's thank our lucky stars once more he's on our team.
The definition of winning ugly: Despite the performances from Moreno, Kennedy and LaBrocca, the rest of the team had a pretty rough game. Like I said above, even good teams need to win ugly sometimes, and I think this game fits that to a T. In the second half in particular, the Revolution fully controlled the run of play, and Chivas looked disorganized and unable to exert the same influence over the game as in the last meeting between these teams. For a silver lining, I think it is promising that Chivas scored both goals in the second half on the counter, but against teams with better quality or better defenses, that will be a much more difficult task. Still, it provides confidence and perhaps the ability to build a new skill set for the attack. And a win's a win. Let's just hope Fraser makes them practice the short passing game a bit extra in practice this week.
Excellent debut for Fagundez: Diego Fagundez is a 16-year old home grown player for New England, and he made his debut in this game. It makes you wonder why the team waited so long to get him on the field. He provided an instant lift to the team, and although I think the penalty he won was soft at best and a dive at worst, he got a scoring chance for his team within minutes of making his professional debut. Then he followed that up with his first goal while his team was chasing the game, and he really looked good. Although I would prefer Chivas not start diving to try and win penalties needlessly, Chivas still haven't had a penalty kick all season, and have no players capable of winning them. It would be nice if we could get an unpredictable player to make that happen like Fagundez. I look forward to seeing his development over the next couple of years.
Good debut for Courtois: As expected, Laurent Courtois made his MLS debut, coming on in the second half for Jorge Flores. I thought he assisted Moreno's second goal, but I guess I was mistaken as he wasn't listed on the official scoring report, but he did dribble past the defender near the touchline at one point, demonstrating his skill one on one against a defender. I guess the good news is that he didn't lay an egg, so I am feeling pretty good so far on Courtois.
Looking ahead: Chivas continue their road trip by heading up to Seattle and taking on the Sounders next Saturday. Seattle had struggled lately but advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League group stages and coming from behind on the road to defeat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 means they will be full of confidence. Chivas will have a big test, and as it will be the first match between these teams this season, so there will be an element of surprise for both sides.