CHIVAS USA: What's right? What's wrong?
March, 18, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesSebastien Le Toux of the Vancouver Whitecaps sends a cross against the defense of Chivas USA's James Riley.
CARSON -- Two games in and so much is going so well for Chivas USA, enough so that with a just a little more attacking spark the Goats might be streaking toward something special.
Instead, they're 0-2-0, haven't found the net, and have seen two outstanding defensive performances wasted after conceding late goals on set pieces.
Saturday night's 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps was beyond frustrating for Chivas, which managed nearly nothing offensively despite controlling the ball most of the match and lost although it surrendered just two shots on goal all night.
Jay DeMerit got the goal, a 68th-minute header from Camilo's corner kick after Oswaldo Minda, his mark, slipped on the run. The Goats' only real scoring chance, despite several penetrations into dangerous territory, came from rookie Casey Townsend's bending ball toward the top-right corner that Joe Cannon stretched to tip over the crossbar in the 32nd.
“This game can be summed up pretty quickly,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said afterward. “I thought we weren't aggressive enough, weren't aggressive enough to take advantage of some space that was provided to us.”
The story was similar in last week's 1-0 loss to Houston, in which Chivas had more possession but created just four decent chances, none of them sharp enough to do any real damage.
“I think we possess the ball well, but in the final third we lacked that punch, that little bit of creativity, just executing plays,” Chivas left back Ante Jazic said. “We have a lot of new guys. It's getting guys on the same page. I think the effort is there, just the end product is missing. Hopefully, that comes sooner than later.
“Just disappointing. I thought Vancouver was certainly beatable. What did they have, just one shot on net, aside from the goal, and from distance? If you give up one shot on goal, you should win that game. … Give credit to Vancouver: They defended and they battled, but I thought they were there to be taken tonight, for sure.”
Chivas was without Juan Pablo Angel, whose head injury has been diagnosed as a concussion and who is going through Major League Soccer's concussion protocol, which takes a week minimum. Fraser said he thought Angel could be back for next week's game at Real Salt Lake.
They could use him, certainly, especially after failing to get a shot off during one second-half foray, in which Jazic, Ryan Smith and Nick LaBrocca had decent looks. The press-box consensus: Someone has to take that shot.
“That was exactly my reaction on that same play, to be quite honest,” Fraser acknowledged. “It’s something that we need to address and we need to obviously look at. To score goals, we need to really want to score goals, and I just thought that there were too many times tonight where we had opportunities where with an aggressive move we might have been able to create a dangerous opportunity, and we weren’t aggressive enough.”
Said Jazic: “In the final third, it's about being creative. We have guys who are creative. We need guys just to let loose and play. … I feel like the effort's there, just a bit of quality we're missing at the end. It's just frustrating because I think defensively, as a unit, we defended well, didn't give them anything.”
Two games, two should-be wins? Or at least draws?
“If you look at both games, we could have,” Jazic said. “But could-have, should-have? What does that mean? Soccer, you know?”
WORTH NOTING: Lots of firsts for Vancouver: First road win (in 18 MLS away matches), first back-to-back shutouts (after a 2-0 triumph last week over Montreal), first MLS goal for DeMerit, first time they've been atop the standings (even on points with RSL) more than one game into the season. The first road win was the biggest of the accomplishments, “a huge monkey off our back,” according to DeMerit. Said Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie: “It's up to us to make our own record and to build a winning environment, like we've always talked about, and this is only a first or second step along the way. But it's three points, and three points builds confidence and winning on the road builds unity.” … Chivas on Friday signed Scott Gordon, who has been on trial with the Goats since mid-February. The 6-foot-4 right back and center back played last year for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the second-tier North American Soccer League and was in FC Dallas' camp earlier in preseason. He started his college career at Mercer University, then transferred to NCAA Division II power Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., his hometown. … The Goats are expected to finalize a Home Grown Player contract with Glendora's Marco Delgado in the next couple of days. … Chivas' reserves scrimmage against UC Riverside on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on one of the training fields just west of HDC's main stadium. It likely will be the last shot for remaining trialists to make the roster.