Let's be honest for a second. Unless you're a diehard Goat fan, not many people are going to remember too much about what happened on the field during Chivas USA's season finale and so maybe a recap of random observations isn't the best route to take.
There was a whirlwind of emotions going on at StubHub Center -- a mix of the sadness that comes with closing the curtains on a troubled, yet beloved club, the exuberance of celebrating amongst familiar faces, and a sense of hope and uneasiness of what's to come. I'm sure I speak for many in saying it was a bit hard staying truly focused on what we were there to witness: our final Chivas USA soccer game.
Sadly, in a matchup of Western Conference cellar dwellers, not much happened in those 90 minutes. After dominating the flow of the game in the first 45, the Goats came out flat in the 2nd half. I don't know if it was Wilmer Cabrera choosing to park the bus for the final 45 minutes or it had more to do with a disjointed offense (seems like they were rushing possession up field only to lose it). What I do know is that this was the type of performance where CUSA would've normally given up the lead, but fortunately for them, San Jose weren't playing any better.
It was ugly, but it turned out to be one last hard-fought win in front of the loyal fans.
Here are a few key observations from Sundays season/franchise finale:
One Last Look at Barrera -- In our last column, we addressed the reasoning behind Leandro Barrera's ineffectiveness in the attack despite having a trunk full of tools at his disposal. Against San Jose, Barrera was able to put on quite the display after taking advantage of the space given to him by the Earthquakes' high line. He did a fantastic job initiating and developing the counter, but still struggles with the final pass and decision making while under pressure in the final third.
With a full season under his belt and still at only 23 years of age, Barrera has a bright career ahead of him. Barring an unlikely purchase of his contract by MLS, Barrera will be set to return to Argentina and fight for a spot on the Argentinos Juniors roster.
The Final Goal - During one of those many Barrera-led counters, the quick Argentine was able to feed Cubo with a lead pass along the left side of the field. This essentially isolated Cubo in a 1v1 matchup on the endline with Victor Bernardez, but a fortunate bounce and Bernardez's ensuing "I didn't touch him" reaction essentially gave Cubo the red carpet to goal. Attempting a curved shot towards the far post, Cubo's shot ricocheted off the post and right onto the feet of Felix Borja. Once again, in true Felix Borja fashion, the Ecuadorian was there to knock in the rebound for his 3rd goal of the year.
Forget "Kangaroo," Borja needs to go by "The Garbage Man" since he's fantastic at cleaning up messes.
Minda Yellow Card - It's only fitting that Oswaldo Minda, everyone's favorite destroyer in the middle, finished his Chivas USA career with a yellow card. For the 2nd time in his 3 MLS seasons, Minda has led the league in yellow card infractions and no other player has amassed more than his 31 over that span.
That was by far my favorite GIF of the year.
I mean, look at that effort. It almost looked as if Minda knew he was one yellow away from taking sole possession of first place on that exclusive list of MLS recklessness. Even referee Sorin Stoica, calls him out on him with the "not 1, not 2, not 3" line. I'm gonna miss this guy.
Kennedy Deserved A Sendoff - There's no doubt about it, Dan Kennedy has been the face of Chivas USA. Having been with the club since 2008, Kennedy's commitment, professionalism, and stellar play has made him a legend among the Chivas USA fan base. It was a bit unfortunate that Wilmer Cabrera didn't find a way to use one of his subs to give him a proper send off to the ovation of the crowd. A moment such as that would've been magical and it's almost a crime Kennedy wasn't given one final farewell.
Empty Seats - A few weeks ago, an interesting thing happened. Chivas USA was able to fill some seats. They did it through their #WeekOfGratitude and ended up giving out complimentary tickets as part of their campaign. Unfortunately, the stands remained rather empty on Sunday's finale (announced attendance of 5,571) which left me wondering why MLS didn't find a way to give out tickets for this one. On the other hand, it appeared that things were a bit lax at StubHub as a few claimed their tickets weren't even checked at the entrance.
It's just a bit unfortunate the club was never given the chance to get a proper send-off. With a delayed announcement from the league confirming the fate of the team (the announcement came the day after), the club was forced to continue on that awkward course of pretending everything was normal. It's kind of like a TV show that gets suddenly yanked without a planned season finale. People forget about those shows. In the case of Chivas USA, since most of us were left in the dark, there never seemed to be a sense of closure. Things could've been handled a bit differently
No Caleb Calvert - Presumably with the space made available by Marvin Chavez's red card suspension, 18-year-old Caleb Calvert was able to dress for the first time in his young career. To the disappointment of Chivas fans who wanted to see the young talent at least once before the team disbanded, Cabrera chose not to give him a look, instead choosing to reinforce his defense to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Best Finish Ever?- Not even the fabled 2007 Western Conference champion side finished a season this strong. The three wins in the final four games of 2014 marks the best 4-game stretch to end a season in club history. Sadly, CUSA were unable to come out with a win in their 12 games prior. The great finish helped the Goats avoid the Western Conference cellar and it's crazy to think that despite the distractions, three other teams ended the season with a worse record.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!