Chivas USA hit the field Saturday night looking to change their recent fortunes, but the result was just more of the same, as the Colorado Rapids defeated the Goats 2-0 at DSGP. An early goal by former Goat Atiba Harris put the hosts up in the 11th minute, while Nathan Sturgis' 78th minute goal, scored in mirror image fashion to that of Harris' gave the Rapids the 2-0 scoreline. Meanwhile, Chivas played somewhat better on the defensive end (that's a relative thing) but were as ineffective as ever on the offensive side, so basically no progress has been made over the last two months. Chivas have now gone seven games without a win, and with a possible exception of the upcoming U.S. Open Cup game on Tuesday, there's little optimism on the horizon in Chivatown.
With that, let's jump right into some of the talking points of this match:
Tactics remain the same: All week, fans and pundits wondered if this would be the point in the season when Chelís would realize how ineffective his 3-5-2 has become, and alter it to something more MLS-friendly. Despite the bizarre reports coming from Chivas' twitter feed and the Rapids' broadcast, Jorge Villafana did not play as a central defender in a 4-4-2, instead playing his usual left-sided midfield role. WIth Joaquin Velazquez out for this game with a minor injury and Steve Purdy playing midweek for El Salvador, Carlos Borja teamed up with Bobby Burling and Mario de Luna, but the result was largely the same, even if the margin wasn't nearly as embarrassing this time. I think Burling had a decent game overall, but Chivas were schooled on both goals.
Last week, Real Salt Lake abused Chivas' defense by making well-timed secondary runs to beat the high offside trap, and scored three of their four goals with relative ease using that strategy. Colorado took a different tack, playing the ball inside out to stretch the field, then sending crosses into the box. While Chivas' defenders have some size, the Rapids did not opt to go for many aerial balls, instead keeping their crosses on the ground, and both goals were scored when players made runs through the box to poke home the crosses. Although it was a different strategy than RSL used, it was another obvious choice, and Chivas just could not deal with being stretched so much in their defensive third. I suppose it is futile to ask this, but will we see any adjustments next week?
Offense is terrible again: Chivas had just two shots on goal all night, and although Burling's first half header off a corner kick came tantalizingly close to evening up the score, Eric Avila had the best shot of the game but it really didn't even test Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin. As Marcelo Balboa astutely noted during the game on the Rapids' broadcast, Chivas had trouble working together as a team offensively. Instead of really connecting with each other like they did in March, the sharpest Chivas' players on the night, Avila and Carlos Alvarez, instead decided to go it alone and were quickly outnumbered by Colorado when they tried to make individual magic. They may be decent players but they aren't good enough to beat four defenders themselves. And Jose Correa looked poor once again. Although one could argue that he really doesn't get much service most games, he still just doesn't get into positions to become dangerous. I can't tell if he's regressed or if the system just doesn't suit him, but something isn't working. And although Miller Bolanos wasn't listed on the (not required to be exhaustive) injury report this week, he wasn't in the 18 in this game, even though he looked decent in his start last week. This makes me sound like a broken record, but will we see any adjustments in this department next week?
A bright spot in the midfield? Well, Edgar Mejia left the game at the end of the first half because of a foot injury, and that is a concern, but Oswaldo Minda finally made his comeback in Mejia's place! It appears Minda is finally healthy and he and the club have put their recent differences aside, and hopefully he can help whip the team into some shape. Obviously Minda is not a miracle worker, and his presence will not singlehandedly vault Chivas back into 2nd place, but he remains one of Chivas' best players, and if Chelís can give him the starting job to keep, it should correct at least some of the massive problems plaguing this team the last two months.
Looking ahead: Chivas have a league match next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, but before that, they have a U.S. Open Cup game against the LA Blues on Tuesday. I know upsets are a fact of life in the USOC, but let's be perfectly clear: Chivas need to win that game Tuesday, period. They may not gain much respect if they beat their USL Pro opponents, but they'll lose a ton of it if they lose to the Blues.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!