In case you wanted more analysis of Sunday's 1-1 draw between Chivas USA and the New York Red Bulls (we know you do), here's 10 observations from the match.
1. NYRB's Physicality – We already knew Armando and Jamison Olave would be a tough go for the Chivas attack considering they play with such physicality. We also knew they could be reckless and sure enough, they had their fair share of fouls, many of which were borderline yellows. Throw in right back Richard Eckersley, who makes up for being continually out of place with risky challenges, and its no surprise the team has already given up 3 PK goals in 4 games, one of which came when Eckersley took down Thomas McNamara in the box, leading to a Cubo goal (sans Robo-celebration for whatever reason).
2. As Expected, the Possession Battle went NY's Way– As expected, NYRB absolutely dominated possession at home but those possessions didn't lead to much. Part of their ineffectiveness had to do with some of Dan Kennedy's spectacular saves, but for the most part, they couldn't link up in the final third. Its a very similar trend to what plagued CUSA in the years past (Gif of player doing tons of tricks only to get ball taken away). As much credit as I want to give CUSA for their hard fought effort, their defense was once again "Swiss-Cheevas USA" and this is a game NYRB clearly should've won by multiple goals. When your top players are limited to 50 touches, things probably aren't going your way. Their inability to initiate an attack and keep some possession should be one of the team's biggest priorities going forward.
3. Another Week Another DM Carousel – For the second week in a row, Wilmer Cabrera would have to make a decision on who to fill the 2 DMS in his 4-2-3-1 formation. Last week we saw McNamara initially pair up with Oswaldo Minda (until Ozzie got injured) and finish up with another converted DM in Marky Delgado. This time around we saw Cabrera go with another pure attacker in Carlos Alvarez alongside Agustin Pelletieri, with McNamara playing as the CAM up top. The defensive midfield has clearly turned into a carousel of midfielders from all backgrounds. Cabrera clearly doesn't like limiting his players with labels.
As mentioned in my scouting report for the game, McNamara was being misused/wasted as a defender. He's an attack-first type player and his aggressiveness and work rate might disguise the fact that he lacks the IQ and intuition that makes defensive-minded players so effective (remember a college coach saying he NEVER plays defense). As a result, McMullet is playing more like a reactionary defender – he's usually trailing attackers and struggles to stay a foot ahead of them.
Not to harp on the guy because I think he's absolutely fantastic, but his heavy touch will be less of a factor on the wings and up top, but it a big liability in deep in the middle. Kudos to him for drawing the PK, though. Hopefully he plays up top with Cubo next week at home.
4. Where's Fragoso? - Dani Fragoso was getting plenty of first-team playing time in the preseason but has all of a sudden gone into some sort of Cabrera dog house. Seeing Delgado as a substitute is no shocker but it's a bit mysterious as to why Cabrera has played McNamara and Alvarez out of position. The only thing that comes to mind is Fragoso's costly turnover against Vancouver.
5. Cubo and the Counter – Cubo has been doing a phenomenal job turning simple counters and clearances into actual possession. He does a great job holding the ball and waiting for assistance and in case you haven't noticed, he's been pretty successful at undercutting defenders when long balls are served to him. Defenders are catching on, and Olave and Armando made sure he'd think twice about trying that on them, sending him a few elbows on aerial duels and just being extra rough on the kid.
6. The Bofo Sub - At the time, the substitution seemed acceptable. The pace was relatively slowed down (it picked up immediately there after) and Adolfo Bautista's ability to hold the ball coupled with his passing accuracy (leads the team with 86% accuracy), and ability to draw fouls could serve as an effective way of slowing the game down even more. Unfortunately, the pace became too fast for Bofo, and he immediately became a defensive liability. His poor/non-existent marking in the box was to blame for leaving Luyindula wide open for that gut-punching equalizer.
7. NY Attacked the Right at Will - Last week, NYRB attacked Colorado primarily on the left, knowing that the Rapids were starting a midfielder at right back. In my scouting report, I fully expected NY to attack CUSA's weakside at will, only I expected it to be aimed at Avila and Zavaleta. NY instead decided to try and exploit Tony Lochhead and Donny Toia on the right. It seemed like Lloyd Sam had his way on the wing on each possession late in the second half and one of those attacks unfortunately led to the extra time equalizer.
8. Rosales the Hustler – If it wasn't for DK going absolutely berzerker in goal, Mauro Rosales was clearly the Goats' most important player. His ability to draw fouls when pressure was mounting, to find opportunities in an already limited attack was crucial. Not only that but he's providing a greatly unnoticed effort on the defensive end as well. Its just fantastic to see how the guy that everyone keeps saying is past his prime has so much energy left in him. It's not old man hustle, but an effective, ageless hustle that Rosales shows when making his way back in transitions and helping on all sides of the field.
9. DK the Savior -Its just a shame that Dan Kennedy wasn't awarded with a clean sheet. His miraculous save of a Dax McCarty long shot and carefully deflecting a 1-v-1 attempt by Shaun Wright-Phillips, among other spectacular displays, make you wonder how he's never gotten a call up to represent his country. Solid showing by Kennedy and he clearly deserves MOTM.
10. More Bofo – Those gloves, man. That hair, man.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!