Good news! Chivas USA ended their four-game losing streak on Saturday in Southern California against the Vancouver Whitecaps, as the teams drew 0-0. They also racked up a clean sheet, their fourth of the season and first in six games.
The bad news? The Goats did not find the back of the net, stretching their scoreless streak to 366 minutes, their longest of the season and the worst since a team-record 600 minute mark back in 2012. On top of that, while they moved level on points with the team above them in the standings, the San Jose Earthquakes, they couldn't overtake them, meaning their goal to move up the standings has yet to gain traction.
So it was a mixed bag, as draws often tend to be. Let's go over some of the talking points in this game:
The Goats played well in defense: Yes, there were sustained periods where Chivas were basically in an emergency defending mode, but they were able to weather the Whitecaps' attacks all night, and the makeshift backline of Akira Kaji, Tony Lochhead, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Donny Toia teamed up well with Dan Kennedy to get the elusive shutout. Although AJB seems to have a habit of booting the ball upfield a bit often for my liking, his actual defending was very good on the night, and Kaji has to be one of the standouts in this game, as he not only helped cover the flank, he also did well to cover the late run on the far post repeatedly. Kaji has settled in really well since joining the team, and it looks like he's locked down right back for the rest of the season, which is a good sign.
Borja looks like a good complement: Felix Borja made his MLS debut, starting up top with Erick Torres, and the dimension he gave to the attack was striking, as he lived up to his nickname of "kangaroo," leaping up to win the first ball on the header time and again, and looking like a player who is comfortable holding up play and giving his teammates time to get into the final third. He and Cubo didn't link up all the way in this game, but one would think the pair will continue to build chemistry and should be able to figure out how to play off each other relatively well.
But, game was there for the taking: I don't think Vancouver came out as flat as they did in their last visit to Carson, and they certainly looked like they could grab a win in this game at various points. The problem for Chivas is that they also looked like they had a good chance to win, and couldn't grab that breakthrough goal. The ball made it to Erick Torres, but he couldn't get a shot on goal and away from 'Caps keeper David Ousted, despite a few really great chances. Nathan Sturgis was alone in the box with an admittedly tricky angle to beat Ousted, but he opted to pass it up, sending a backwards into the box to substitute Ryan Finley, who was completely covered. It seems the deference that other players have to feed the ball to Torres means they are gun-shy when they have a decent look. And really, this team needs to get more players scoring. We say it constantly here, and it looks like it's going to be Cubo or bust in 2014, but that means there probably won't be many more goal celebrations for the rest of the season.
Looking ahead: The Goats make their biennial trip to Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution next week. The Revs are a tricky team, but like CUSA, have struggled quite a bit lately too. It's on turf and a long way from home, but given the improved performance in this game, as well as the result, they have to feel they could be in position to spark a mini-revival in the season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!