In a game that appeared that was there for the taking, Chivas USA left StubHub center in frustrating fashion, losing a close 1-0 contest to a FC Dallas side.
Here are some Key Observations from Sunday night's encounter:
The back line gained a few years - Last week, with Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling still nursing injuries, Wilmer Cabrera went with a CB pairing of Eriq Zavaleta and Andrew Jean-Baptiste. This time around, he decided on replacing AJB, who struggled in last week's loss against Colorado, with the more experienced Tony Lochhead.
Containing Castillo (Again) - When things aren't going a team's way and they're struggling to create very many chances, an individual player with great skill can single-handedly get them over the hump and provide a game-winning performance. Fabian Castillo appears to have that quality for FCD and is slowly becoming a bonafide goat killer. His speed, technical ability, and aggressiveness on the ball (he finished with 7 successful take-ons) continues to give CUSA fits on the wing. His presence draws defensive attention in numbers, leaving others open, and a simple touch inside usually finds an open man - as evidenced in FCD's lone goal on the game.
I mean, watch this. It's the Fabian Castillo show.
One troubling factor was Akira Kaji playing so high on the right, putting a lot of pressure on Zavaleta and Oswaldo Minda to plug up the hole and contain Castillo, all the while leaving even more space for an extra FCD attacker to be on the receiving end of a Castillo set up pass.
Peaks and Valleys - After winning 4 consecutive games, Sunday night's loss marks the third consecutive loss for the Goats. With the loss, CUSA dropped back into the Western Conference cellar and currently sit 7 points out of the 5th and final playoff spot with 13 games to go. Three weeks ago, the deficit stood at a more doable 1 point.
The play has improved - The silver lining is that if you hadn't been watching the games, you'd have thought that CUSA had been playing much poorer than they had during the win streak, but that is not the case. If anything, I see the team playing BETTER than they did and their showing against FCD was the best they've played in a long while. They played like they wanted it more, they were faster to loose balls, higher pressure, better combo passing in the final third. They won the possession battle (55/45) for only the third time this season (the other two being in the season opener vs Chicago and their 1-1 to Portland in mid-April). The Achilles heel continues to be the poor chance creation and finishing.
"Throughout the year I have to say this is the best game we have played at home in terms of possession, moving the ball, being organized and putting pressure. But in the end, it's not how you play when you play well, or you play better than the other team. It's if you put the ball in the net. They only had two chances and they put one in," - Wilmer Cabrera in his post-game presser
Distribution from the back - One of the biggest limiting factors of the CUSA attack was the poor distribution out of the back. Against FCD, the back line did a pretty good job taking their time to find the safest man open, with Zavaleta and Kaji both finishing the game with an outstanding 98% passing accuracy. This improvement played a big part in CUSA winning Sunday night's possession battle.
Marvin Chavez - Marvin Chavez, or CUSA's version of Fabian Castillo, continues to be the most dynamic player on the pitch for the Goats and uses his speed and aggressiveness to do most of his damage on the flank. With Rosales out of the lineup, he's essentially the only legit creative force on the field. Despite the high amount of breakaways he was able to create, he was not able to make that final pass to get CUSA a shot on goal - an issue that also limits Leandro Barrera on the opposing flank.
Kaji gets Japanese Support - It was great to see a bit of Japanese support at a CUSA match and in this case, we got to see Akira Kaji get some love. A Japanese flag was hung as well as a Kaji support banner from a group that labels themselves as the "Party Animals".
Konbanwa pic.twitter.com/iJWui79OAN— Chivas USA (@cdchivasusa) August 4, 2014
The Final Clasico - Chivas USA's next encounter with the Galaxy is scheduled for August 31st and is being marketed by the club on it's TV spots as "El Ultimo Clasico". A win would result in the Goats and Galaxy tying the 2014 series. Get your tickets here.
"Whine" Tasting - This should've been a penalty kick. We were robbed of a tie, or maybe more importantly, a Robo-Cubo appearance.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!