It wasn't the most dynamic match played, even this week, as Chivas USA and the Seattle Sounders tied 1-1 Saturday at the Home Depot Center. After a dull first half, Chivas opened the scoring in the 57th minute when Juan Agudelo, fresh off training with the U.S. Men's National Team this week, scored on a header from a James Riley cross. However, Chivas gave up the lead just four minutes later when David Estrada took a pass from Alex Caskey in the 61st minute and evened up the score. Seattle controlled the proceedings from there, but Chivas had a few chances late. Although a point is good, both teams probably feel like they should have gotten a win in this match.
With the result, let's discuss the good, bad, and ugly coming out of the match:
Agudelo nets first goal for Chivas: It has been an eventful couple of weeks for Agudelo. He got traded from his hometown club, which left him with mixed feelings. He played a match for his new team, then got called up to the national team's training camp, probably expecting to play in the upcoming matches. He then gets cut, and comes right back to his new club and starts. But he got his first goal in a Chivas uniform tonight, and his first of the 2012 season. It is a good sign to see him open his account for the Goats, and in his second appearance. It is interesting to note that Agudelo kissed the Chivas badge during his celebration, which should endear him to fans, but it seems a little soon, doesn't it? No matter, as far as I'm concerned he can kiss that badge as much as he likes if he keeps scoring.Vagenas played well in Minda's place: Tonight was the reason why Robin Fraser signed Peter Vagenas. With regular holding midfielder Oswaldo Minda away with the Ecuadorean national team, Vagenas slotted in and played a fantastic match. Despite his nickname of "Pass back Pete," Vagenas took advantage of the absence of Seattle's holding midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and sprayed terrific passes all over the field. He reversed the ball to Riley on the build up to Chivas' goal, and it was the essential pass that made the difference. Although he did seem to fade as the game wore on (making the argument that he should be played as the second option), Vagenas had a great game and should give fans hope that he can be a solid deputy for Minda.
Chivas are riding an unbeaten streak: With this draw, Chivas have gotten six points in their last four matches and are on their longest unbeaten streak of the season. In the month of May, they finished 1-1-3 in league play. Although a couple of those draws probably could have been wins, this is a good stretch heading into the break and hopefully they can recover and work on sharpening their game during the layoff.
Chivas need an attacking midfielder: We don't know how long Nick LaBrocca will be out with his hamstring injury. He could be back after the international break or miss multiple games. But while I think Chivas have upgraded their roster this season, they still need a central attacking midfielder. Alejandro Moreno has played decently in midfield, but I think the team needs an offensive-minded attacking midfielder leading the charge and pulling the strings in the attack. Without this player, the team often suffers in holding onto the ball (it should be noted they were dominant in possession in this match, although most of that was prior to the goal), and they need a player to control the attack in the middle. I think Chivas do well on the flanks, as all of their goals from the run of play have come off crosses, but they also need a method of playing centrally as well. I know great central midfielders don't grow on trees, but if Chivas have any budget in the summer transfer window, they might think of looking for a player who could fit this role.
The first half was poor: Both teams played poorly in the first half. They both improved in the second, but Seattle looked really pretty bad in the first half - think Galaxy bad. Chivas needed to take advantage of the Sounders' lethargic play in the first half, but they couldn't. If they had taken a lead in the first half, they might have demoralized Seattle, but the inability to capitalize hurt them in the end.
Giving up leads is officially a problem: Chivas' problem in March and April was scoring. They've now scored in their last five matches (though they've only scored once in each match), so while they could pick that up, it isn't the crisis it was earlier this season. Now, their problem is that they give up leads, usually within a few minutes of taking them. Altogether, they've given up four leads this season, all in the month of May, and they've dropped nine points this month. While six points is a decent haul, 15 points in May would have been a hell of a lot better, wouldn't it? Consider this: if Chivas had picked up all of the lost nine points, they would be ahead of Seattle in third place in the Western Conference. I think Chivas have improved tremendously this month, but if they stopped dropping points, they would truly be a solid playoff team at the moment. Let's see this become the next step in the team's development.
Tough night for Valencia: John Valencia got his third career MLS start in this match, and was removed in the 66th minute for Rauwshan McKenzie. Valencia was the man to stop Estrada's equalizer, but he fluffed the clearance and slipped, giving Estrada the space to capitalize on the mistake. While I think Valencia was at fault there, I think some blame can be placed on Riley and Danny Califf for failing to close in on Caskey before he sent the pass towards goal. Both defenders were worried about Montero making a run nearby, so they were stuck in no man's land and allowed Caskey the space to make an easy pass.
While Robin Fraser was clearly sending a message to Valencia with the substitution, I don't think he was playing so badly that he needed to be removed, and the Colombian did not take it well. Whether he was upset primarily with giving up the equalizer or being substituted is unclear, but Valencia kicked a water bottle into the stands after reaching the sideline, gave Fraser quite the look, and wordlessly walked straight to the locker room. It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Sometimes athletes need to work through their frustration and come out of it fine, and sometimes it festers and they can't channel it. Plus, we'll have to see if Fraser wanted to motivate him or if he's in the doghouse now.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!