If you're willing to throw out the 3-1 loss to Vancouver in Jose Luis Real's Chivas USA coaching debut, the side has conceded only three goals in four games. During this time, Dan Kennedy collected his first clean sheet of the season in the 0-0 draw with FC Dallas.
That's a far cry from the 23 goals conceded in the side's first 13 games.
As much as I admired El Chelis for his willingness to play with a three-man backfield, it clearly wasn't working.
In theory, and with the right personnel, the three-man defensive line with wingers from each flank tracking back as necessary could present opponents with an ever-fluid and dynamic conundrum. And it did initially, until teams figured out how susceptible the system was to a well-timed counter attack.
Real's decision to reimplement a four man backline has steadied the defense. This is especially apparent when looking at the statistics Opta provides on their chalkboards available at MLSSoccer.com.
The defense has been anchored by Mario de Luna and Walter Vilchez with Josue Soto playing at left back. Carlos Borja is primarily in the right back position. Against FC Dallas on July 4th, Marky Delgado played right back, however Delgado went back to the midfield when Borja came on in the 58th minute for Carlos Alvarez.
In the five games under Real's management, the defense has averaged 30 clearances per game. In an ideal world you'd want your defenders to recover the ball and get it to your midfield to spring a counter attack, however it's still a credit to the defender that he was able to snuff the attack and remove the ball from danger.
The team has also upped the ante in breaking up passes, getting double digit interceptions in each game with 20 in their recent match at the Montreal Impact.
Chivas continues to cede possession. In all but two games under El Güero, the Goats have allowed opponents control of the ball for 60% of the game or more.
Despite this, it may surprise some Chivas has been successful in recovering the ball, with 50 or more recoveries in each match under Real.
Meanwhile it would appear the new coach has added a sense of calm to the team. Prior to Real taking the helm, Chivas USA led the league in fouls. Under Chelis games would include an average of 28 fouls per game with the Goats responsible for 15.1 of those fouls.
Under Real total game fouls are down to 21.8 though Chivas are still responsible for the lion's share of those fouls committing an average of 12.9.
What do you think? Can a team survive in MLS with a three-man backfield? Can Real's first win as a Chivas USA manager be far away? Leave your comments below!