Erick Torres gave Chivas USA a lead once again but his team continued to show its liability in holding the advantage, allowing Houston Dynamo a comeback in the 1-4 home defeat at StubHub Center.
The misery continues as the Goats have now lost three game in a row and produced four losses in the last five games they played. If you take a look to the game stats, you can't argue against a Houston victory. If something jumps out, it was Chivas USA's inability both in creating scoring opportunities and capitalizing on them. This is somewhat surprising considering the high number of offensive players the Goats have on their roster right now. It could be less surprising after taking a look the way coach Wilson Cabrera employs them.
With seven of Chivas USA's nine goals scored, there is no question that Torres is the most dangerous offensive weapon of his team's attack. Of course, the distinct possibility that the Mexican striker could be back in Guadalajara at the end of June, as his loan is set to expire, should scare both CUSA's fans and coaching staff.
One of the major issues concerning Chivas' offense is how isolated Torres is playing up front as center forward. In the 4-1-4-1 coach Wilmer Cabrera put on the field recently, Torres was placed as a lone forward with two wingers, notably Leandro Barrera and Mauro Rosales, positioned high up in the way to provide wide support to Torres. Offensive midfielders like Thomas McNamara, when he was healthy, and Carlos Alvarez, were also put on the field but they have seen their role limited to defensive duties, with both frequently sitting deep, far away from Torres. Therefore, Torres remained often isolated up top battling against opposing center backs.
Furthermore, Chivas USA are lacking of that kind of midfielding support, with teammates running toward Torres to exploit the gaps he causes when he drops back, pulling the center backs out of position. As a result, CUSA failed to produce alternative shooters and Torres remains as the team's only real scoring threat. In fact, the team currently is 18th in MLS with 11.2 shots per game with just 3.2 shots on target. The inability to produce scoring opportunities is especially true at home, where CUSA rank 18th with merely 11.4 attempts per game. So it is clear that the Rojiblancos have yet to establish secondary scoring threats to Torres in the way to get enough shots. The recent injury to McNamara will put more pressure on Cabrera to fill this void.
Add to it the fact that Cabrera appears a bit confused regarding his team approach to the games. He continues to field a defensive-minded side regardless of the fact his roster is loaded with offensive players. It seems to be a contradiction in contrast with CUSA players' tools as they are very poor at defending. Their defense seems unsure. The Bobby Burling-Eric Avila collision that allowed Brad Davis to equalize the game was embarrassing. This approach could also lead to frustrate Chivas' best players. Against Houston, the opposing team dominated possession once again. It was a one team show.
A solution could be to go back to the more offensive 4-4-2 Cabrera utilized in the early part of this season, lining up a second forward paired to Torres. In this case, Cabrera could put Adolfo Bautista on his starting XI to play as a pure second forward alongside Torres, assuming the 34-year-old rusty forward is ready -- and it didn't appear like it looking at his performance Saturday.
Otherwise, the Colombian manager still has the possibility to field Alvarez higher in a No. 10 spot just behind Torres in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Then, he could pair two holding midfielders as Oswaldo Minda and Agustin Pelletieri behind the offensive quartet as he did against Houston. Obviously, above all, Cabrera needs to change his approach as a team featuring Torres, Alvarez (or Bautista), Barrera and Rosales up front needs to get more ball control that they did in recent games, including the last one against the Dynamo.
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