How quickly the tide can turn.
After putting together a string of favorable results, a makeshift Chivas USA lineup was unable to get anything going and lost 3-1 to the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. It marked the second consecutive game the Goats have lost by multiple goals and the first time in seven games they have failed to score.
Here are 10 Observations from Friday's Game:
1. Cabrera called out his players - After the game, Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera made a few comments inferring he didn't like what he saw from the team, but appeared to take issue with player decisions revolving around their choice of footwear:
"I'm disappointed about some players' mentality, especially some guys that had the chance to play, the possibility to step up on the field. The first thing that you do in these types of games is be well prepared with the right tools and some players wen ton the field with cleats that they're not good for this weather and these conditions. They were slipping and that costs us a goal."
"At halftime 2-0, you have to come and tell the players, 'Hey, what kind of cleats are you wearing?' That's pretty sad, but that's our reality. That's us, at this professional level, telling the players to change their cleats. You have to wear the studs for this weather, otherwise you're going to slip. They slipped two or three times, caused problems, concentration, and then 2-0, the game is over."
I took a look at the replay and could not find any evidence of a CUSA player slipping leading up to or during the 2 COL first half goals. For whatever it's worth, Donny Toia was caught slipping in the 33rd minute, and although it eventually led to a long range shot by Jared Watts, it didn't result in a goal.
2. CUSA did not apply enough defensive pressure - Colorado was allowed to work with tons of space in their attacking third as CUSA was not providing enough pressure in and around the box. As a result, instead of containing attacks and ending them with a defensive clearance, tackle, or interception, sequences usually ended in a shot attempt, cross, or corner. The lack of pressure allowed COL to not shy away from plenty of long-range shots (of their 16 total shots, nine came from outside the box with two going in for goal). On the other hand, the lack of pressure, especially from the backline, could have easily been a product of a makeshift, inexperienced backline playing together for the first time ever.
3. The Makeshift Starting Lineup - The starting lineup featured a backline with only one regular starter (Toia), and included two CBs under the age of 22 that had never played a game together. We know that a few players were out with injuries - Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Bobby Burling (knee), Marvin Chavez (hamstring) - but consideirng Mauro Rosales, Tony Lochhead, and Oswaldo Minda were on the bench - it's evident Cabrera was giving the older players a rest at the end of a cross-country 3-game roadtrip.
In any case, It was a risky move by Cabrera that didn't pan out, but the real question here is whether the decision to give the veteran players a rest before a 10 day break was worth the potential blow to team morale as a result of a blowout loss.
4. Substitution/Lineup Issues Part 2 - Despite the makeshift lineup, Cabrera did have a few veteran options to energize the club off the bench. It was clear Cabrera wanted to rest his starters otherwise he would've subbed in Rosales in at halftime. On the other hand, word is that Rosales is nursing a minor hamstring injury so keeping him out of action makes plenty of sense. What doesn't make sense is that in a 3-0 blowout, Cabrera, who usually makes three subs, only used two. If you're truly gonna rest the starters, why not leave Rosales, Minda, and Lochhead at home and maybe give guys like Caleb Calvert and Kris Tyrpak a taste?
5."You miss 100% of the shots you dont take" - Against Colorado, CUSA only managed to get off 4 shots with only 1 on target. Colorado, on the other hand, managed a whopping 16 shots with 7 on target and outdid CUSA in chances created by a margin of 12 to 3. CUSA's four shot attempts was the lowest tally on the season. They currently rank dead last in the league with 9.9 shots per game, and naturally, rank dead last in shots on target with 3.1 per game.
6. Cubo snaps his streak - Cubomania came to a temporary halt Friday night as the streaking CUSA forward was unable to extend his consecutive scoring streak to seven games. It was a rough night for Torres, who was only able to muster two shot attempts on 39 touches.
While CUSA has struggled this season, Cubo's production has not only made CUSA relevant with his ability to score goals, and you could make a case that he played a massive part in that CUSA four-game winning streak (No, I'm not pushing you aside, defense. You were good during that stretch as well).
Still, it's a bit sour to watch a 2014 CUSA game and not being able to witness a Cubo goal at the end of 90 minutes.
7. The defense was exposed in one, non-scoring, play- Late in the game, COL midfielder Dillon Serna was able to find space along the right side of the field and CUSA's defensive reaction left a lot to be desired. For one, It appears Andrew Jean-Baptiste could've put forth a better effort in closing out on Serna, but instead jogs his way towards the goal. In giving him the benefit of the doubt, AJB could've been holding off on giving up his defensive ground and may have been anticipating a cut inside.
It wasn't just AJB though. If you focus on the other CUSA players in frame, you'll notice almost the entire backline was ball-watching and losing track of the cutting players finding open space. Luckily, the play did not result in a 4th goal.
8. The lineup lacked a creative playmaker- With Rosales out of the lineup, Nathan Sturgis essentially became our lone distributor and while he did what he could with 80% PA and 2 KP, it clearly wasn't enough. With Thomas McNamara and Martin Rivero out for the season, the team finds itself incredibly thin when it comes to creative playmakers behind Mauro Rosales. Where art thou Carlos Alvarez? Oh, right.
9. A closer look at LaBrocca's goal- While I might get heat for saying it, I can't help but think Nick LaBrocca had a bit of luck on his opening goal. It was the type of shot that had everyone thinking "geez, man pass the ball" until they actually saw that the universe conspired to make sure that ball somehow reached the back of the net. (Check out Dillon Powers' reaction).
Lost in the craziness of the shot was the series of unfortunate events by Eriq Zavaleta that allowed LaBrocca to get that shot off in the first place. On the initial shot by Vicente Sanchez, the ball appears to catch a piece of Zavaleta's arm which could've led to a PK. The ensuing deflection led to Zavaleta challenging Serna at the top of the box that could've resulted in another PK call, and eventually Zavaleta was whiffed right past LaBrocca on the final shot.
Again, for every nit-picked "bad", Zavaleta makes up for it with a decent 90 minute showing. He was the lone defender who managed to demonstrate accurate distribution out of the back, going 37/42 on his passing (88%). Against DC, it was his seven interceptions. Despite the occasional growing pain, he remains a bright spot on that back line.
10. Coming Full Circle - One thing that made CUSA's four-game winning streak streak so special was that it came right after the low point of a two-game homestand where they lost to Portland (0-2) and Philadpelphia (0-3) by a combined 5 goals. Interestingly enough, CUSA followed up the end of the unbeaten streak by dropping two consecutive games to DC (1-3) and COL (0-3) by a combined 6 goals.
Taking things a step further, former Goat Jorge Villafana that assisted on Portland's opening goal back in May, while it was none other than the recently traded Carlos Alvarez that assisted on Colorado's final goal.
Again, full circle.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!