Carson, California. Chivas USA hosted the Philadelphia Union tonight at the StubHub Center for yet another home opportunity to secure points in order to stay alive in the hunt for a Western Conference Playoff berth. However, the Goats succumbed to some of the same errors that have plagued them throughout the last few seasons and ultimately led to their 0-3 loss to the Union on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Goats, Martin Rivero committed a costly penalty in the match's 28th minute when he handled the Union set piece in the box, off an indirect free kick called on Dan Kennedy for holding the ball for more than six seconds. As a result, Philadelphia's Conor Casey nailed a penalty kick past Dan Kennedy to take the lead. The Rojiblancos would not recover regardless of which game plan was employed for the remainder of the match.
Things got worse for the Goats in the second half, as the Union were able to capitalize again in the 66th minute as Cristian Maidana was able to quickly pass RB Eric Avila and cross to Casey to beautifully head home the assist for his brace past fill-in CB Tony Lochhead.
Within ten minutes, Philly's catalyst, Christian Maidana, scored one of his own off a Vincent Nogueira assist to put the game away in the 76th minute, though the goal was controversial, as Andrew Wenger dummied the ball through his legs on the way in while standing next to Kennedy. Though the laws technically state that a player who doesn't touch the ball is not actively offside, it was a very harsh call for Chivas.
Adding insult to injury, the Goats picked up an additional three yellow cards for Leandro Barrera, Erick Torres and Eric Avila and a subsequent red for Oswaldo Minda. Minda's red marks the sixth red card that the Goats have been flagged for in 13 games this season.
Here's what we learned from this evening's match:
Penalties. Please stop committing them.
Mix (not Diskerud) it up. When things are not working out, it's usually a sound decision to change things up. Perhaps things could substantially improve to a point where it places a squad on a collective path that's constructive in nature. Chivas' CB pairing of Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling has struggled throughout this young MLS season. Tonight's match marks the first that Bocanegra has missed for any reason whatsoever. Due to both playing on Wednesday and lightly tweaking his left hamstring, coach Wilmer Cabrera chose to rest Bocanegra for precautionary reasons. Additionally, Bobby Burling's red card, in Wednesday's loss to the Portland Timbers, resulted in his one-game suspension and unavailability for the Philadelphia match.
One man's misfortune often results in another man's gain. With Bocanegra and Burling out, Cabrera turned to both Eriq Zavaleta and Lochhead to control the defensive line's middle presence. I, for one, truly believe in Zavaleta and feel that he can be a significant contributor in virtually any position on the field. His appearance on the pitch is like a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, I was less enthusiastic on Lochhead who's been primarily used as a LB and been unable to secure that position where turnover has been the only certainty. However, both players played unexpectedly well given their unfamiliarity with CB and playing next to one another in spite of Casey securing a brace.
Other lineups amendments saw the return of Minda which was no less important in helping to control the defensive midfield. Minda is sorely missed whenever he is absent from the lineup in spite of his insatiable need to rack up cards. These overzealous decisions and plays often leave his teammates at a severe disadvantage.
Youngsters need to take the lead. For quite some time, Chivas has been accumulating solid young talent through both their SuperDraft picks as well as their signings, transfers and loans. On paper, many of these players have made enormous strides to establish themselves as building blocks for the future. Marco Delgado, whom Mauro Rosales did substitute for at halftime, and Eric Avila are perfect examples of Chivas youngsters who have taken that "next step" toward not only improving their own games, but also moving the team in the right direction.
Without question, Torres has become one of the next generation of MLS stars who is almost able to carry an entire team's scoring load on his own shoulders. Chivas has a slew of talented players that now need to progress that potential to on-the-field results. Most notably of this group is Carlos Alvarez who is playing very well in only his second year, but really needs to begin to increase his statistical productivity in offensive categories such as goals and assists. Other Chivas talent simply need to garner more pitch time in order to possibly increase their efficiency such as Kristopher Tyrpak, Ryan Finley, Matthew Fondy, Matthew Dunn and the aforementioned Zavaleta. Fortunately, Chivas also included SuperDraftee Michael Nwiloh in its 18 for this evening's match. I'd love to see what the Georgia State University product can do in a Goat uniform.
The Goats have now had two consecutive games in a row where they were outscored a combined 5-0 by their two opponents, the Timbers and Union. Making matters worse is the fact that the two matches were both at home in front of a low-attendance crowd looking for a better performance from their Goats. With the World Cup set to begin, Chivas have only one remaining match before MLS' hiatus and that so happens to be against their hometown rival LA Galaxy next Sunday afternoon. It would be remarkable for the Goats to secure a point or three prior to going into such a long break in order to reestablish some confidence for our team.
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