For nearly all of Saturday's match between Chivas USA and the Colorado Rapids, it appeared the Rapids would walk to an easy victory. But a late goal from substitute Juan Pablo Angel gave Chivas a draw on the road, and the Goats leave Dick's Sporting Goods Park with a point completely against the run of play.
Colorado opened the scoring in the 19th minute, when midfielder Brian Mullan took the ball away from Shalrie Joseph at the edge of Chivas' box, then blasting a shot to beat Dan Kennedy. It was one of the sloppiest goals given up by Chivas this season, and it appeared that Colorado was only getting started on the scoring. The Rapids controlled possession for most of the rest of the match, and had 19 shots on the night, and there were several very close calls for Chivas.
The first half completely lacked any pressure or attacking intent for Chivas, and surely many fans fell asleep during the first 45 minutes, and while Chivas did not look considerably better for the second half, they did step up ever so slightly. But the big change came in the 83rd minute when Juan Pablo Angel flicked a ball into the offensive third, then made a run towards goal. Casey Townsend played the ball out wide to the left to substitute Tristan Bowen, making his first appearance of the season for Chivas, who crossed it along the ground to JPA, who tapped the ball in. Chivas should hurry up and get out of Colorado before the cops arrest them for stealing a point.With that, let's discuss some of the talking points coming out of the match:
Joseph's mistake was costly: I don't want to pile on a guy who has a long and distinguished record in MLS and who has only played two games for his new team, but Shalrie Joseph was nearly responsible for a loss. Although plenty of blame can go to the rest of the team as far as a general inability to control possession or mount a respectable attack, Joseph was absolutely to blame for the goal. Simply put, any player who does that more than once in MLS has to be considered a liability and should probably not be an automatic starter. I think it will take Joseph a bit of time to figure out what his role should be on this team, and he worked hard all night. But if he's going to play as far back as the center backs, there is no way he can be stripped of the ball as easily as he was tonight. Hopefully he's put the mistakes behind him and will perform well the rest of the way for Chivas.
One is the magic number: Here's the rule of thumb for Chivas in 2012: if they let it zero or one goal in a match, they have hope. If they give up two goals, however, the game is over. Credit to the team for bending but not breaking after going down early, and while the attack is still a nightmare, the defense stuck with the match and was able to do just enough to keep the ball out of goal a second time. And it is positive to know that Colorado tried to take advantage of Chivas' biggest defensive deficiency by trying to play the ball over the high line and have multiple attackers make runs to try and stretch the defense, and Chivas didn't give up any goals by those methods. Omar Cummings and Tony Cascio were quite dangerous, but they didn't find the goal they were seeking, and Dan Kennedy had another good game with four saves. Based on their track record, if Chivas only let in one goal, they have hope to come back into a match and get something from it, and that's an improvement over the last time they were in Colorado.
Subs make a big difference for Chivas: I thought Robin Fraser used his substitutes well tonight. Bowen came on just past the hour mark, and he did seem to make a difference, as his wide play seemed to trouble the Rapids defense as the game wore on. Whether it was because he was different and Colorado had relaxed after sensing Chivas weren't going to offer any sort of attack, or if he's really improved since going on loan to the Belgian second division last season, he set up the equalizer and has certainly earned himself more playing time. Meanwhile, JPA came on in the 72nd minute for Juan Agudelo, and frankly both players were largely anonymous until Angel's goal. Part of the issue was that as usual the forwards did not have any service until Bowen came on, so I don't think Agudelo can be blamed for a bad night, and the same goes for Townsend, who barely featured despite playing 90 minutes. And while third sub Laurent Courtois did not play a part in the goal, he was able to dribble out of Chivas' box late in the game, releasing the pressure on their goal and doing his part to keep the Rapids to a goal. The question should be asked as to why Chivas were so impotent in their attack for 80 minutes, but Bowen and Angel bailed out the team and provided the spark to give the team an undeserved draw.
Looking ahead: Chivas have to raise their game for a home game next week to the Seattle Sounders. It will be the second match in the MLS regular season between these clubs, and they played to a 1-1 draw last time out. But Chivas were in a run of good form at that point, and they are playing bad soccer at the moment. Still, they need to keep pushing for wins in their games in hand.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!