Despite the assertions that Chivas USA are in a new era, and have shrugged off the struggles of the past, they completely capitulated to the LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon in the first meeting between the clubs this year, losing 3-0. After shakily holding onto a scoreless match through the first 36 minutes, Robbie Keane broke the game open, walking the ball into the goal after shambolic defending from the Goats in the 37th minute.
Stefan Ishizaki opened his MLS account five minutes later, making a run along the left side and chipping Dan Kennedy on a very tight angle to make it 2-0 heading into halftime. Another Galaxy newcomer, Baggio Husidic, scored his first goal for the club in the 56th minute, finishing off a spurt of possession between Keane and Donovan.
The game was a disaster, plain and simple. Chivas never looked like they were in it, and though they may have gone for the rope-a-dope by playing back in the first half then coming out strong in the second, that plan (if it was the plan) was a disaster.
Here are some talking points:
Goats lacked bite: Chivas came out of the gates slow, sluggish and incredibly cautious. They didn't even register a shot on goal until the 81st minute. Think about that -- literally no serious chances on goal until the game had been effectively over for 40 minutes.
It wasn't really a matter of the Galaxy shutting Chivas down, but rather that they just didn't really play sharply on the attack and never threatened. It was beyond disappointing for a team that has looked decent in the attack so far this season.
The weight of history: The Goats started this game with the apparent attitude that they were worse than the Galaxy, and they played like it. It's one thing to respect the opponent, but rolling over and lacking any aggression is even more galling. I suppose losing 3-0 is better than losing 7-1, but that's kind of the point: this team cannot match up toe-to-toe with the Galaxy, no matter who's coaching and who's actually wearing the shirt. What will it take for an attitude adjustment to take root?
I mean, it was basically assumed that Landon Donovan would break the MLS scoring record in this game. He didn't but the fact that he didn't break the record against the Goats counts as some kind of tiny moral victory? Ugh. Just awful. The sights should be set a bit higher, but the weight of history continues to follow this club around.
Defense finally faltered: Ok, Chivas gave up three goals in another game, but this one was done and dusted by the hour mark, unlike that other bad loss. It is fair to concede that Chivas were missing several key players, in that Oswaldo Minda was out again, and couldn't patrol the midfield, and Bobby Burling and Tony Lochhead were out, and that meant the defense was quite inexperienced. Eriq Zavaleta got another start, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste made his Chivas debut...as an emergency left back. They got pulled out of position repeatedly by the multiple runners the Galaxy sent forward, and there were numerous communication breakdowns. It wasn't pretty.
I suppose the glass half full take would be that new defenses need time to really connect, and young defenders need to take their lumps. The point moving forward will be to see whether the defense can bounce back, or if they will start an inexorable slide.
No deja vu: Last year, Chivas started even better than this year, but they dive-bombed from May on. Will this season go in the same direction? I sincerely hope not, and I do believe there is cause to believe this group can turn it around. But given the team's track record, it is worth concern, at least in my opinion.
We'll have plenty more analysis of this result coming up, so be sure to check back often.
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