For the second consecutive game, Chivas USA failed to keep an early lead against a Western Conference power, this time losing to the Seattle Sounders 2-1.
Here are 10 Observations from the match:
1. Wilmer's Comments - "We don't receive respect and we don't receive fair consideration from the refereeing. It's easy to take advantage of us because nobody complains." - Wilmer Cabrera in his post-game presser.
Cabrera mentioned that the refs feel they can throw away calls when CUSA plays and won't be called out on those mistakes because, essentially, no one cares about Chivas USA. While I do believe that CUSA fell victim to a ton of soft calls, and the red card was a bit excessive, the calls were also going both ways. CUSA was even awarded a PK in the 3rd minute against a one of MLS's prized puppies. So no, I don't think its a matter of referees picking on CUSA, but feel its more of CUSA playing so aggressively. Kudos to Wilmer, though, for backing up his team and the entire organization, even if it means he might get fined (a weird case of Cabrera paying his temporary team owner).
2. Yet Another CUSA Red Card - In the 72nd minute, Marky Delgado went in to challenge Gonzalo Pineda for a loose ball. The challenge was studs up and, with no obvious intent to be destructive, Marky's knocked shin guards with Pineda. His cleats never even touched Pineda. I thought red was a bit excessive, but Pineda sold it and the "18-year-old boy," as Cabrera called Delgado in the post-game presser, was given the straight red. Cabrera went on to say that "both players went for the ball and, because Marky's a young player on Chivas USA, he's taken out." The CUSA midfield now needs someone to step up, as players seem to keep falling to injuries and suspensions.
3. AJB or Toia? - Andrew Jean-Baptiste already did an admirable job last weekend at left back against the Portland Timbers, which led me to think his performance vaulted him over Tony Lochhead at the position. He adds creativity, athleticism, pace, and a more consistent passing option on the left that Lochhead cant compete with. AJB also adds a big body in the box for set pieces. He was able to get off a few shots on goal, including a nifty move from about 40 yards out in the 19th minute.
Seattle was attacking at will on AJB's side and although he did a decent job, there were times he was caught out of position. In the 16th minute, Lamar Neagle was able to sneak past him in the box and AJB nearly took him down for a PK. At halftime, Cabrera probably thought it was time to make the switch to the more conservative Donny Toia, who responded with a fantastic defensive effort. I like what I saw from Toia and while he's proving to be a great pickup, I still prefer AJB as CUSA's starting left back.
4. Agustin Pelletieri was absolutely bossing - If you didnt see the game, you won't understand point #4 since the box score doesn't really show aguante. Pelle was masterful in staying in front of the action and disrupted attacks by throwing his body at everything that came near him in something I'll call calculated recklessness. Like this and this and this. Sure, that last one was called a foul, but remember that a destroyers role is to destroy attacks. He also did a good job organizing and providing direction to what has become a very young and inexperienced midfield.
5. CUSA has trouble holding leads - Earlier this season, there was a lot of talk about how this team just doesn't quit and while that still is the case, they sure cough up leads. In 7 games this season, CUSA has already coughed up four:
- Game 1 vs Chicago - blew a 2-0 lead, won 3-2
- Game 2 vs Vancouver - blew a 1-0 lead with 10 men, tied 1-1
- Game 4 @ New York - blew a 1-0 lead, tied 1-1
- Game 7 @ SEA - blew a 1-0 lead, lost 2-1
in a world of "what ifs", Chivas USA essentially cost themselves 9 points and could easily be sitting pretty with 15 points, which happens to be good for 2nd place in the entire MLS. Unfortunately, CUSA instead sits with 6 points and towards the bottom of the pack.
6. DK had a rough day - Let's face it, Dan Kennedy had a few lapses on Saturday and his first half error allowed Seattle to get their equalizer. With the ball bouncing in the box, Carlos Alvarez cleared the way for Kennedy to catch it, but DK was unable to get a grasp on it. Noticing no one was in goal, Dempsey gained control, chipped it over towards the center of the box, and Lamar Neagle made CUSA pay. Later on in the 61st minute, he had another troubling moment that could've made his day even worse.
7. CUSA has trouble defending skill players - CUSA currently leads the league in fouls per game (18.3), yellow cards (19), and reds (2). Some things never change. Part of it is due trying to disrupt opposing gameplans, but CUSA struggles defending players with speed and technical skill (Kekutah Manneh burned us, Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz destroyed us, Lloyd Sam worked that right wing with ease, Darlington Nagbe was a pest, and now Dempsey and Martins were allowed to do their thing.)
8. PKs Galore - Remember how rare it was for CUSA to get awarded a penalty? Through seven games, CUSA's three PK goals have already matched last year's output and if you wanna go deeper, they have only one less than the four PKs earned from 2010-2012. Attribute this to the better, wiser attacking options. The teams of old rarely made things happen in the final third because they rarely got there.
9.Cubo, pass the ball - Even Erick Torres is starting to believe that he's the only scoring option the team has. The league's leading goal scorer (tied with Dempsey with 6) was a bit selfish on a few scoring opportunities. Yes, you want your striker to be always looking for a shot, but there were times where he dismissed open teammates (he had Mauro Rosales open to his right) or when impatience got the best of him and he took the long shot.
10. Bofo the sub - For a guy that doesn't get much playing time, we sure talk about Adolfo Bautista a lot. Here's the thing -- his pace is lacking, he's probably got lungs that are burning like they're lined with Sriracha, and seven games in he probably isn't yet in football shape. On the other hand, he's proven he can still be very effective in his limited time. Good things happen when he's on the field and its just a shame he still has yet to play more than 25 minutes in a game, preseason included.
With the understanding that Bofo's time with CUSA will be limited to late game substitutions (this really frustrates me since he's magic), "Bofo Time" seems to be puzzling. He came on in the 79th minute against Seattle with the score tied and CUSA a man down. Wouldn't you want to bring in someone with better pace and work-rate like Kristopher Tyrpak to help pressure the ball and prevent Seattle from playing keep away? The only thing I could think of is that Bofo takes such good care of the ball that he'd be effective enough to mask the missing man. Either that or he's got "10 Minute Mexican Marketing Machine" somewhere in his contract.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!