Fresh off a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC, Chivas USA was able to cap what had become the longest winless streak ever contained in a single MLS season. Coming off a bye-week Chivas put in a strong performance but fell short to Seattle.
Of course the 2013 Seattle Sounders are a far cry from previous year's models. However, in his 8 games at the helm Jose Luis Real has transformed the overhauled-some would say "gutted"-Chivas squad into a much more disciplined squad.
‘Disciplined' is a multifaceted term which is why it's appropriate here.
Under Real, the team is fouling less, so much so that Sporting Kansas City has surged passed the Goats to lead MLS in fouls committed. Just once under Real did Chivas commit an excess of 17 fouls. It took Chelis five games until the team could manage fewer than that total per game.
The team continues to accumulate cautions (44 yellow cards, five straight red) but the rate has slowed. It's debatable whether those decreases are a result of a calming influence Real exudes or if it is merely the switching from the three-man backline to a four-man backline.
What's not up for debate is the drop in offside calls. When scoring chances are scant to nil, giving possession to offside violations is a killer. Prior to Real taking the helm, Chivas USA had 25 offside violations in 13 games. Under Real the rate has been halved to eight in eight games.
Finally there is the discipline, as in mental toughness, which can best be portrayed by the teams 10 goals given up in the last 15 minutes of play, the most in Major League Soccer (so far).
It might also be a byproduct of age. The team that took the field against Seattle-including a 34 year old Carlos Bocanegra-- were of an average age of 24.5 years old, nearly four years younger than their Seattle counterparts.
Chivas will need all this discipline and more if they are to thwart a dangerous San Jose side this weekend. The Earthquakes are mounting a furious run for a playoff spot and will be welcoming back Chris Wondoloski and Alan Gordon back from the successful Gold Cup run.