Vancouver, British Columbia. After three straight wins, Chivas USA travelled to Canada's BC Place to take on the home Vancouver Whitecaps. The Goats were looking to secure points in five straight matches, and succeeded, as they came back to grab a 3-1 win.
The WCFC took a commanding lead over Chivas in the match's 27th minute as Carlyle Mitchell was able to net his first MLS goal off a corner from Pedro Morales. Mitchell's strike was a beautiful header centered directly toward the middle of the net and directly out of the reach of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
As with the last four games, the Rojiblancos would not be denied, despite going behind for the first time in that span. The 47th minute saw Mauro Rosales find Agustin Pelletieri bag his first MLS goal on the equalizer.
Assisting with Chivas' accumulation of road points was WCFC's Jordan Harvey being issued a straight red card in the 69th minute as he tackled the Goats' Oswaldo Minda with his cleats up. Fortunately, Chivas USA escaped the match without securing any red cards whatsoever.
All appeared to be heading toward a draw when second-half substitute Marky Delgado crossed to on-fire striker Erick Torres to secure his 13th goal (for third place in MLS) of the season and the game winner.
To add insult to injury for WCFC, another Chivas substitute, Leandro Barrera, hit a shot in the goal in the 94th minute as Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted was playing upfield in order to provide potential equalizing support in the game's waning moments. With a two-goal lead, the match belonged to Chivas USA. Game. Set. Match. There's four wins in a row for the Goats, and for the first time since 2008!
Here's what we observed from tonight's match:
Consistency. Playing the same players, day in and day out, makes a substantial difference. As a player, knowing your teammates' tendencies can definitely contribute to more accurate passes, field awareness and enhanced defensive awareness for picking up attacking opponents. In contrast to last season, Chivas are now beginning to realize the benefits of providing their players with familiarity with one another. This has helped to forge a defensive "comfort zone" that has assisted in creating multiple shutouts throughout the Goats' four-game winning streak.
Over the last few matches, the Goats have been fortunate to utilize a similar player rotation that includes the same nucleus of fifteen to sixteen field players. This consistency was utterly and completely absent last season as the Goats struggled through virtually every match.
The defensive backline has undergone some amendments, but overall has consisted of basically three constants with Carlos Bocanegra, Donny Toia and Tony Lochhead. Other Chivas USA players such as Eric Avila, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Bobby Burling and tonight's starter Eriq Zavaleta (who this writer has substantial faith in) have all rotated filling in the fourth and final spot. These defenders are an enormous contrast to last season's "musical chairs" rotation of personnel.
On a final note, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has been the very definition of "consistent" throughout his entire tenure with the Goats. Recently, his play has even been greater than expected as exceptional saves and positioning are now virtually guaranteed as soon as Chivas take the field. Without a doubt, Kennedy is instrumental in keeping the Goats competitive in every single match. Kennedy's initial save in the 19th minute combined with his back four's beautiful placement negated WCFC's potential first strike from Erik Hurtado as he was called offsides.
Share and share alike. To this point, Chivas USA' entire offense has consisted of Erick Torres. Cubo's strikes have now numbered 12 coming into tonight's match. While Torres' scoring display has been both substantial and exceptional, it has in a way rendered the other Goat scorers virtually nonexistent. Next to Cubo, Marvin Chavez is the next leading scorer with only two goals. Such a differential is a certain testament to Torres' brilliance, but also an apparent inability for any other Chivas USA player to step up and carry some of the offensive burden.
Nevertheless, Cubo's 13th was another brilliant display of his remarkable touch near the net. Thankfully, it resulted in yet another Chivas victory to secure 12 points in four games.
Welcome back. In spite of their dismal record, Chivas USA started two recent World Cup veterans in their starting 11. Both Marvin Chavez (Honduras) and Oswaldo Minda (Ecuador) have now returned to the Goats' lineup with the hopes of bolstering their attack and hindering the opposition. Chivas have certainly missed both players' enormous contributions on and off the field and are very happy to have them back in their starting lineup.
Mark your man. As a former soccer player, my father and coach used to repeatedly scream "mark your man!" To this day, I repeat, without yelling, the same sentiment to both my boys when they are on the pitch. Tonight's first WCFC goal came directly off a set piece where Mitchell was able to freely head the ball directly into the center of the net. "Unobstructed" should never be a word used to describe a goal scorer on a set piece.
With that said, the hand can also be dealt in your favor from time to time. Agustin Pelletieri was also left completely unmarked in the box on Rosales' corner against the WCFC. Always, always mark your man.
Looking ahead: Next Sunday will see Chivas USA travel to the nation's capital to take on D.C. United. The match will take place at 5:00 PM (PST) and showcase two young clubs attempting to remain relevant in their respective conference's playoff races through the second half of the season. Good luck to our Goats and another three points is entirely within reach. Now, just go and win them.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!