With the end of the season approaching, Chivas USA entered Saturday's match against DC United with a simple goal: get a victory. Unfortunately, they did the exact opposite, racking up their worst loss of the season by falling on a hat trick by Charlie Davies. The mistakes occurred early and often for the Goats, as Davies got his first two goals in the 11th and 14th minutes and Chivas were never able to really get a true rally going. Davies added insult to injury with his third goal in the 66th minute, before David Junior Lopes, getting the start in center back with Heath Pearce out, got a straight red card in the 69th minute on a challenge with Chris Pontius. Pontius broke his leg in the collision, and DC will likely miss him as he has been playing very well and provided assists on all three goals on the night.
To be fair, losing by three goals flattered Chivas. Let's switch up the format a bit and go through the good, the bad, and the ugly on the game for the Goats.
It is not an exaggeration to say there wasn't much good on the night. I think the best thing is that Chivas contained Dwayne De Rosario, who had been on a tear since joining United. However, allowing a striker who had not been in form lately to torch the team was definitely a drawback on that positive.I suppose Chivas not giving up a penalty was also good. Instead, they let Davies score three times in the run of play. Ok, so not much in the good column on the night. Moving on...
I actually think the red card on Lopes was unfair. It was hard to judge live, but it looked like a 50/50 challenge by both Lopes and Pontius, especially on the replay. Both players went in recklessly, and collided in about thirty places on their bodies. I think Lopes will get a bad rap because Pontius broke his leg on the play, but Pontius was responsible for some of the violence on that collision as well. And now, to make matters worse, Lopes will be out for next week's game against the Chicago Fire, depleting the defensive depth even more.
In other matters, Chivas were able to get some possession after the first thirty-five minutes or so, but DC fell back and asked Chivas to unlock their defense, which they were completely incapable of doing. Chivas were only able to really hold onto the ball for persistent periods in the middle third of the field. Of course, I don't need to tell you that keeping the ball in midfield is not really going to lead to goals. It appeared Chivas had reverted back to their form from the very start of the season, and despite holding onto the ball, never appeared dangerous with it.
Yes, the finishing appears to have vanished for Chivas. They couldn't score on Bill Hamid, who had a hamstring injury for most of the game and did not have to make any major saves. They haven't scored since Laurent Courtois scored late against Colorado on August 20. Since then, they have played two games that were winnable and one difficult game, but they haven't found the back of the net in any of those losses. In two of those three losses then have fallen by one goal, so presumably if they could get a goal in either game, they would have at least gotten a point, and perhaps been able to battle for a win. It seems when the pressure increased for the team, the offense lost all of its mojo. This is a problem, and if the team can't find a way to score in the last several games of the season, it will be a precipitous fall indeed.
The other major problem, that got worse with this game, is of course on the defensive end. Chivas dearly missed Pearce and his experience, as well as rookie Zarek Valentin, who is still recovering from a quad injury. Lopes is having a difficult adjustment to MLS so far, but to be fair that is a tough task to ask from a defender coming in the transfer window during the season. I think he needs to be given a shot into next season before issuing a verdict on that acquisition, but he's been struggling so far. Ben Zemanski, who has started in defense in spot duty this season also had a tough game, as his failed clearance led to one of Davies' goals. I think Zemanski is a good squad player but it looked like his lack of game action showed in his performance. And I still don't know why Andrew Boyens isn't getting some time in the center of defense, especially considering Michael Umana was coming off two 90 minute games with his national team last week.
This was the first game of the season that Chivas lost by more than one goal, so the best case scenario would be if the team considered this performance a mulligan and moved on. Sure, they have lost three straight games, and their playoff hopes look to be slipping away, but now is the time to dig deep and get the team back to the form they have been in for so much of the season. I don't think anybody believes they can win MLS Cup, but they are a borderline playoff team, and they may need to overachieve to actually make the playoffs at this point. But they need to actually win a game before they think about the playoffs in earnest. Let's see if Chivas can move on quickly or stay mired in their worst form of the season.
Looking ahead: Chivas take on another middling to poor team in the Chicago Fire Saturday in Chicago. Can Chivas break the slump and get three points on the Fire? That will be the question on everybody's mind this week.
What did you think of the game? Can they get a win next week? Leave a comment below!