Chivas USA have spent the past couple weeks publicly discussing the need to pick up victories in this stretch, and that meant their match against the Seattle Sounders was pivotal. But after making some puzzling substitutions to the starting lineup on the defensive side and some promising selections to the attacking side, the Goats were completely humiliated en route to a 6-2 thrashing Saturday night at the Home Depot Center. Fredy Montero led the way for Seattle with a hat trick, while Brad Evans and Sammy Ochoa scored as well for the Sounders, and Ante Jazic capped off the night with an own goal. For Chivas, Juan Agudelo converted a penalty kick while Miller Bolanos notched his second goal of the season.
The scoring began early, as Evans received a ball from Mauro Rosales in acres of space, as James Riley was caught completely out of position. Evans ran straight for goal, and opened the scoring in the 10th minute. Rosales set up the second goal in the 27th minute, when he found Montero for his first goal. Montero got his second in the 34th minute when he chipped Dan Kennedy. Chivas pulled one back in the 38th minute when Casey Townsend drew a penalty on a shirt pull in the box by Adam Johansson, and Agudelo scored his second in two league appearances against the Sounders.The second half started pretty well for Chivas, considering the circumstances, as it appeared Seattle took their proverbial feet off the pedal and Bolanos got Chivas to within a goal in the 64th minute when he beat Jeff Parke and sent a nice shot past Michael Gspurning. Then Seattle decided to get serious and put their mark on the game once and for all. Montero got his third goal in the 67th minute when he danced right away from John Valencia and Bobby Burling. Substitute Sammy Ochoa, who has scored in all of his previous appearances against Chivas, kept his streak alive with a headed goal off a cross by Christian Tiffert in the 80th minute, and Jazic headed the ball past Kennedy in a very ugly play in the 91st minute. Chivas had a shout for a goal, when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado scored an own goal of his own around the 76th minute, but it was called off as Agudelo was judged to have committed a foul in the play.
So, how do we dissect the loss? Let's start with these talking points:
Mixed results on lineup choices: When the starting lineup was announced, I was among the chorus to express my immediate reservations. Robin Fraser took out Oswaldo Minda and Danny Califf from the starting lineup, in favor of keeping Shalrie Joseph and Nick LaBrocca in central midfield and new signing Bobby Burling in central defense. Never mind the mystery that is why John Valencia has been playing ahead of Rauwshan McKenzie in recent weeks, but Valencia has looked better as the games have gone by. As the veteran presence anchoring the center of defense? No way. But why replace a defender who has become absolutely integral in Califf for Burling, other than to make changes for the sake of making changes? Chivas have a midweek game coming up, but why not play the best lineup possible and not mess around with the part of the lineup that has been a positive this season? And why oh why is Minda being left out of the lineup? He is essential to Chivas' midfield. With Joseph in the lineup Chivas have given up 11 goals. He's not the sole responsibility there, but why mess with something that was working more often than not?
On the plus side, if we can say that for a game where the Goats lost by four goals, the attack looked as good as it has in months. Tristan Bowen got his first start and was dangerous all night, and was unfortunate to not get an assist or goal on the night. Agudelo linked up well with Bowen, and Townsend had some good chances as well. Bolanos had the quiet night of the unit, and even he came up with a really nice goal. It's just too bad that Fraser put out such a obviously overmatched lineup on the defensive side, which meant that the youthful attack had little chance of actually getting a result, despite scoring a whopping two goals.
Kennedy is getting torched: Well, it looked like Dan Kennedy was wrapping up the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, but with these scorelines I'm sure his stock will be falling. How frustrating it must be to have a team that can't make basic plays in front of him in order to get the results. Seattle is a talented and dangerous team, no doubt, but so many of their goals came off of Chivas' mistakes, and Kennedy had little shot of stopping most of them on the night. He's such a good keeper, and with performances like this, I wouldn't be surprised if he gives his agent a call.
Chivas were a bit unlucky: It has to be said, Chivas were *this* close to scoring four goals on the night. That wouldn't have been enough for a win, of course, so it's probably a moot point in the end, but the attack showed fight for the full match. In addition to Hurtado's own goal that was called off, Juan Pablo Angel almost scored on a volley at the end of the match. It has to be said, the attack looked really good, and on a normal night, they would have probably got a win. But the defense played so unbelievably woefully that the attack had no real shot. Chivas might have ended up with a slightly more flattering scoreline, but it still would have been a loss, and that's not good enough. This team has shown improvement this season, and it looks like its all for naught again this year.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!