After an opening game and a week of (hopefully) learning from that first performance, Chivas USA hosts FC Dallas in the second match of the season (2 p.m. PT, UniMas). Chivas are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, while FCD beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 last week, but both teams are feeling like they have considerable work to do to play their best, despite the different results. Which team will rise up this week and get the edge? We'll find out soon enough! First, let's preview the match.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions feature with Big D Soccer from Friday.
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 0 points (0-1-0), 9th place in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal difference: -3 (0/3); Last match: L
FC Dallas: 3 points (1-0-0), 3rd place in Western Conference, 7th place overall; Goal difference: 1 (1/0); Last match: W
Key Match-up: Chivas' attack vs. Dallas' defense
Yes, we still need to see if the defense can gel as a unit and deal with the MLS attacks, but given the struggles overall last week, the attack has to be the focus this week. After coming to the team and vowing Chivas would score much more often, Chelís' offensive style failed to deliver last week. Since this is soccer, shutouts happen, but if the team fails to get a goal this week as well, it will become more worrisome. There are three main concerns regarding the attack at this stage: first, are the players good enough to compete on this level (arguably, the forward corps is the most MLS-experienced on the team, so evidently, yes), second, can the players come together and play well as a team (early days, but a question to keep in mind), and third, will Chelís' style be able to break down opposing defenses (also early days). If the team shows improvement in this department against FCD, that will help allay some of the concerns, but the best salve would be goals themselves.
For it part, Dallas played essentially a first-choice defense last week, with the main question being whether Jair Benitez or Michel will start at left back. Benitez was pulled after a half hour last week, an unusual sub for a defender, so that could be a good indication that Michel could get the nod against Chivas. And Matt Hedges looked like he got a pretty bad injury last week, but he is listed as "probable" on the injury report with an undisclosed injury, so he could be right back in the lineup. George John has shown some inconsistencies since his loan spell with West Ham didn't work out, but he is at worst a solid defender, and Zach Loyd has quietly become a good MLS right back. Chivas will face a solid test in this game.
Why Chivas will win this match: Dallas has brought back some key players, and added a few big names (Eric Hassli, Kenny Cooper), but the club is still dealing to some extent with the poor 2012 season and coach Schellas Hyndman's penchant for falling out with key players. With this 2013 group, the team could gel rather quickly, but like Chivas, they will need time to gel, and Chivas could find a team ripe for the taking if they can get their own act together. It is not entirely fair, since both teams were substantially different, but Chivas also played Dallas well late last season, getting two draws, their only points in the final 10 games of the season. If Chivas can find a rhythm as a group, defend well, and start scoring, there's no reason why they can't get a win in this match.
Why Dallas will win this match: They have far more MLS experience on their roster, something that arguably helped tip the balance last week in the Goats' match. David Ferreira had a rather poor game by his standards last week, but he still helped set up the blooper winning goal. Historically, Jackson has torched Chivas USA. It is still early in the season, but it can't be a surprise that people may not believe in the new era of Chivas USA until results start to come, and so the benefit of the doubt is going to go to Dallas for the time being, fair or not.
Why this match will end in a draw: As I wrote at the top, both teams still seem very much to be works in progress. Again, in recalling their 2012 matches, both teams struggled on the field a substantial amount of the time, and this could be an ugly grinder. I suppose it could be a beautiful 4-4 as well, but chances are it will be tight if a draw takes place. Let's just hope that if it is a draw, it includes goals, because I for one am awfully tired of watching shutouts.
Dallas: Blas Perez (suspended, elbow shiver to Bobby Burling last season), Walker Zimmerman (groin), Je-Vaughn Watson (foot - listed as probable), Jair Benitez (ribs - listed as probable), Matt Hedges (undisclosed - listed as probable)