Chivas USA played their first scoreless draw of the 2012 season Saturday against FC Dallas. FCD held most of the possession, while Chivas had probably the best chance of the game, and both teams will walk away with a point. Although I think Dallas will be upset they couldn't find a win against a shaky-looking Chivas squad, Chivas will probably be happy with a point, especially with a more important match looming Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup.
In addition to possession, Dallas dominated chances on goal, with 13 to Chivas' 2, but shots on goal were nearly even, at a mark of 3 to 2, respectively. The best chance of the game came in the 12th minute, when Ben Zemanski sent a diagonal pass into the box to Juan Agudelo. Agudelo took a good shot that was blocked by Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, and the rebound fell to Alejandro Moreno, who only had a split second to make a shot. The resulting shot was partially deflected, but it went off the post. After that, Chivas had no more solid chances on goal. Meanwhile, Dallas' best chance came on an audacious play from Jackson in the 28th minute. On a FCD counterattack, the Brazilian made a shot from the edge of the center circle, just inside Chivas' half. Dan Kennedy was off his line, which is why Jackson took the shot, and the Goats' keeper had to scramble to make the save, which went just wide of goal. Although Dallas kept trying to score after that, and Chivas basically sat back and absorbed the pressure, no goals emerged in this one.
The defense got the job done: It was a team effort to keep the clean sheet, but full credit to Kennedy, Ante Jazic, James Riley, Danny Califf and Rauwshan McKenzie. The first object of a defense and goalkeeper is to keep a clean sheet, which is what they did. The center backs in particular had very strong games, and McKenzie seems to have fully bounced back after his rough game last weekend against Real Salt Lake. Kennedy had three saves on the night, and has his fourth shutout of the season. It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective, and the defensive performance will be forgotten in the midst of the attention and blame placed on the attack. But well done on that front!
Another poor night on the attack: This is sounding like a broken record at this point, I suppose, but Chivas looked absolutely toothless tonight. One issue was that there wasn't a commitment to playing to the forward up top, which was Agudelo. Although Moreno pushed up, his lack of pace and tendency to drift back meant there was no secondary target in service. Cesar Romero also played a withdrawn role and stuck to the right side, while Paolo Cardozo made a couple of runs into the box but could not deal with the physicality of most of the Dallas team. Casey Townsend came on as a second half sub, but by that time the Goats were out of rhythm entirely, and it was work to just obtain possession at all. Since Chivas played almost exclusively on the right of the field for the first hour, Agudelo was stranded, and there were a few times where he could be seen alone on the left side of the box waving his hands wildly to get a teammate's attention. I'm not sure why Chivas played so one-sided tonight, and failed to really hold possession again. Nick LaBrocca made it back on the field in the second half, which is fantastic news, and hopefully his return can help Chivas overcome their possession woes in recent weeks. But they still have a lot of work to do in getting all of the players involved in the attack.
Mitigating factors: I was thoroughly bored by this match, and I'm sure most Chivas fans agree. But you have to acknowledge some factors. I tried to get a sense of the heat during the match, and got no confirmation from any locals, but it seemed like the heat affected both teams and they were playing slow from the opening whistle, something that is not common in most MLS matches. Furthermore, Robin Fraser chose to select the exact same lineup from Wednesday's match. I have to admit I was a little surprised there were no changes, and given the short rest plus the heat, I'm guessing that slowed some players down in this game. Finally, this was always the game to overlook, as Tuesday's USOC match is the big deal, and Chivas will have a bye week in league play following that, so they have to put absolutely everything on the line against the Charlotte Eagles Tuesday. Six points in a week would have been fantastic, but four points isn't bad either. It does represent a lost opportunity, but there are many more points to pick up this season and Chivas need to be fully focused on the Cup competition.
Looking ahead: Do you have Open Cup fever yet? You should, because if Chivas win Tuesday, they will be in the semifinals. They're playing locally at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton, and you should go because it is your only chance to see the Goats locally in the tournament this year.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!