Chivas USA took their eleven-day break in games into Washington to play the Seattle Sounders in what proved to be another difficult test with a 2-1 loss. Jose Luis Real's Goats battled an attacking Seattle team that was absolutely relentless in their pursuit of a home victory. Erick "Cubo" Torres was able to score his second goal in as many games, for the Rojiblancos in the 16th minute off a beautiful feed from rookie midfielder Carlos Alvarez. Chivas' initial strike wouldn't be enough, however, as the Sounders were able to equalize only seven minutes later when Obafemi Martins was able to "thread the needle" to streaking USMNT hero Brad Evans in the 23rd minute of the match.
Chivas were able to capably handle the Sounders' attack for the remainder of the first half as well as the first ten-plus minutes of the second. However, the second half opened with a barrage of shots from Seattle that eventually led to Mauro Rosales' assist to Lamar Neagle in the 57th minute. Seattle's second score proved to be all that they needed in order to secure three points. The Goats continued to fight and claw for an equalizer, but they were certainly hampered by midfielder Eric Avila's absence due to a red card suspension. Fortunately for Chivas, forward Tristan Bowen only picked up a yellow card after throwing the ball at Marc Burch.
Here are some things that we all observed from tonight's match:
100 is the magic number for DK: Chivas USA's captain Dan Kennedy made his 100th MLS regular season appearance in the net tonight. Last year's MLS All-Star goalkeeper has clearly experienced a resurgence under Real as his goals-against average decreased to 1.4 throughout Real's tenure. Tonight was no different for Kennedy as he was continually tested by the Sounders cohesive offensive unit. Countless shots were sprayed in virtually every direction leaving Kennedy with very little chance to prevent either of Seattle's two goals. More support from the defensive line and midfield will be necessary to reduce the constant pressure placed on the Chivas mainstay.
Take the lead: Prior to tonight's match, the Goats were 3-2-2 when they score first. This heavily favorable statistic has been one of the primary reasons for Chivas' recent success. For a few minutes, it appeared that the same logic would be applicable to tonight's game. Cubo's goal gave Chivas the match's first goal and continued their recent tradition of striking first. With that said, it should be noted that in order for this strategy to be foolproof, the Goats would then need to then prevent their opponent from scoring. Clearly, that did not happen as the Sounders capitalized on shaky defense en route to scoring two solid goals while preventing another Chivas score.
Familiarity: This whole season has been one of turnover for Chivas USA. Both coaches and players have basically been coming and going through a revolving door. This inconsistency has placed an enormous strain on the squad's ability to develop any familiarity with one another. Success in soccer often results from not just knowledge of the game, but also of how those around you are best able to achieve a common goal. Chivas are now beginning to settle down and establish some stalwarts with both Torres and USMNT center back Carlos Bocanegra. Reasonable expectations should indicate that more time together on the pitch will most definitely result in more points in the standings. If there is a corner to be turned, then the Goats appear to be heading in the right direction.
HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" may have focused on a number of allegations and negative perceptions regarding the club. However, none of their accusations centered on the players' competitive nature or desire to win. What can be stated is that Chivas' current captain is American Dan Kennedy and the team did just sign former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra. These two, along with several other Americans such as Gabriel Farfan, Tristan Bowen and Eric Avila, are some of the main building blocks for continuing the Goats' turnaround toward a more competitive soccer team.
Looking ahead: Now it's on to Wednesday's MLS All-Star game and then to the Bay Area to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. Full speed ahead for yet another road match and another opportunity to accumulate more points for the Goats.
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