CHIVAS USA: What's needed? It's simple
April, 29, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
There's not a lot of sense in complicating the challenges facing Chivas USA, and midfielder Nick LaBrocca tends to get right to the point, as he did after the Goats' 4-0 disaster Saturday night at Colorado.
“We just need to start focusing on winning our home games and, obviously, scoring goals,” the 2011 MLS All-Star told media. “That’s basically what it comes down to for us.”
Eight games into its Major League Soccer campaign, Chivas' problems are all about making its chances more dangerous and finishing them, especially at home, where it has dropped all four outings by 1-0 scorelines.
The Goats (3-5-0) are masters of possession but struggle to turn that into something tangible. When they seem to nudge the door open -- like with Ryan Smith's crosses for Alejandro Moreno's and LaBrocca's headers to beat Portland three weeks ago -- it's quickly slammed shut. They've not found the net in 239 minutes, taking some 38 shots in that span.
They had 14 on Saturday, four of them on target, three of them worthy of something more: a blistering Laurent Courtois shot and Juan Pablo Angel's rebound just before halftime, both halted by Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and Courtois' corner-kick header off the crossbar.
“We had some moments that were good, but we have to execute,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “We have to execute and we have to finish our opportunities when we get them, and this is the way the game works. If you don’t finish your chances, at times it comes back to haunt you. While there were some things that were good out of it, at the end of the day you have to look at the result and not be satisfied.”
The failure is particularly irksome in tight losses, in which Chivas has specialized since Fraser took charge. And this one was tight until the end, when the Rapids (4-4-0) exploited the space the Goats left as they pushed forward in search of an equalizer, counterattacking their way to three goals -- Kamani Hill's fine finish in the 82nd, a penalty kick won and converted by Jeff Larentowicz in the 84th and Hill's stoppage-time finale -- in the last dozen minutes.
“We were chasing the game late,” Fraser explained. “And when you're chasing the game, you throw a lot of numbers forward. Certainly, there's a bit of risk versus reward, I think, as you do that. And we opened ourselves up, and the score is probably, maybe not indicative of the entire game, but at the end of the day, the score is what is going to be remembered.”
Had Chivas scored on one just one of its opportunities, it doesn't have to push forward as the clock runs down. A draw is always an acceptable result in Denver.
Angel is the man most responsible for the goals, and he made his first start since the league opener, after returning to the field last week from a concussion that forced him to miss five matches. He's not sharp yet.
“The only way you're going to get your rhythm is by playing,” he said. “So in a way I was in a way very content that I was able to get back and get the first [full] 90 minutes under my belt. ... Obviously, it's going to take a few more games just to get the match fitness and the sharpness, but I think the only way to get there is just by playing. I hope I get the rhythms as soon as possible.”
So do the Goats.
WORTH NOTING: Rookie Tony Cascio scored a stirring goal to give the Rapids a 50th-minute lead, taking Hunter Freeman's corner kick beyond the far post off his chest, opening up his angle, then threading the ball through a tight corridor and inside the far post. “Figured just put it on goal, something could happen,” he said. ... Winger Michael Lahoud, just returning from a hamstring strain, made the 18-man roster but didn't appear. ... No. 3 goalkeeper Patrick McLain, a rookie out of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, backed up Dan Kennedy for the first time. No. 2 Tim Melia has a toe infection. ... Rapids striker Conor Casey saw his first game action since snapping an Achilles tendon last July, coming on in second-half stoppage. ... Colorado ended a three-game losing streak before it heads on a three-game road swing. The Galaxy won, 2-1, at DSG Park last weekend. “I thought we played a much better game in terms of the collective team, playing with the ball and asserting more maturity against L.A.,” said Rapids coach Oscar Pareja, whose other losses are to New York, Seattle and Real Salt Lake. “But the game didn’t give us what we deserved.” ... Chivas forward Tristan Bowen on Sunday plays his final game on loan for Belgian second division side KSV Roeselare, at FC Brussels. He would be eligible to play again for the Goats when the summer transfer window opens June 27.