Producing a sinking feeling that hasn't left the Chivas USA fan's psyche alone much in recent years, the Goats lost 3-0 to the Portland Timbers Sunday on the road. Although the score got out of hand late in the game, and the Timbers controlled the match throughout, I think the culprit for this poor performance is pretty clear. But more on that in a few minutes.
Like last week, Chivas kept their hosts off the scoreboard until late in the first half, despite conceding possession almost entirely from the first whistle. The breakthrough, and eventual winner, came in the 34th minute, when Rodney Wallace, who had a very good game, it must be said, finished off a counterattack from a Chivas' corner. Chivas turned up the intensity in a few short bursts in the second half, but managed only three shots on goal on the day (two off corner kicks) and Portland GK Donovan Ricketts was not seriously tested all match. Portland poured it on in the 70th minute, when Diego Valeri beat the offside trap in the box to slot past Patrick McLain, and Will Johnson capped off the match with a blast off a corner kick in the 92nd minute.
With that, let's go over some talking points in the match:
McLain played well on balance: Yes, he conceded three, but he had four saves in his first ever start, and generally looked solid. He had one crazy play early in the second half when he kept running and running to try and clear a ball that went practically to the corner, and a foul only bailed him out there, but otherwise, he kept his head well. You can argue if Dan Kennedy would have stopped any of the goals, but as far as making blunders or major mistakes to cause goals, McLain was clean. It will be nice to have DK back between the posts, but McLain should be proud of his performance on the day.
The offense is the major issue here: Look, statistically, the defense looks bad every week, and this game won't have changed matters. But the defense was absolutely not the problem in this match. That distinction belongs to the attack, which continues to regress to the horrors of 2012 on a weekly basis, and the freeflowing attack that started the season has completely disappeared. It is no coincidence that the attack started to sputter when Juan Agudelo got hurt, and now that he has been traded, he cannot possibly bail the team out. Miller Bolaños came off the bench last week, but was not even on the bench this time around so he couldn't have made any sort of impression. Tristan Bowen and Jose Correa just cannot lead the line without a more dominant scorer. Only Eric Avila looked lively on the attack today, and he had zero support on the day.
Look, this is a massive problem. If Chivas have to bunker for 90 minutes and hope that a goal will magically just appear, they are going to get hammered, because that's basically how 2012 ended up, and I'm sure nobody wants to relive that nightmare. If the defense has to absorb all the pressure, it will get weaker and weaker, since they have some old dudes playing on the back line and the offense does nothing to relieve the pressure. If the attack cannot manage to muster any real shots to test the goalkeeper game after game, it's going to produce a negative feedback loop, and it won't just get better. This has to be the #1 priority from here on out. Is there any thought of making a trade for an actual scorer? I doubt it, since it would probably cost something to upgrade, but this group is proving they can't do it. If Bolaños finally emerges, gets some playing time, and has the breakthrough so many of us expected, ok, maybe he can help jumpstart matters. But if that is the only plan, besides playing the same increasingly-ineffective players, yikes. This could get really ugly.
I'm leaving the talking points here. McLain did well enough, the defense did pretty much all we can expect, and it is all on the attack now, period.
Looking ahead: Chivas host Real Salt Lake, their first repeat opponent of the season, next Sunday. Can the Goats turn around this loss, as well as their earlier 1-0 loss to RSL? Who knows? They have a lot of work to do over the next seven days, that's all I know.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!