Ok, so I've had some time to digest Chivas USA's result Saturday, a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, and on the whole, I feel it was a good result, all things considered. Missing 1-2 starting defenders, both of the first choice holding midfielders (if we hope the Oswaldo Minda payment story is a misunderstanding or will blow over very soon), and the first choice striker, the Goats played a physical, nervy game and got some of their swagger back. They also scored goals again and got a point, so I think it is a performance to build on overall.
Let's discuss some of the talking points to come out of the match:
Sueño steps up: How fitting that while the latest version of "Sueño" is underway around MLS, the original winner, Jorge Villafana, has a fantastic game. It seems pretty clear at this point that his best position is on the wing, as his crossing has gotten continually better, and looks to have made a leap up over even his improvement last season. With his third assist of the season Saturday, Villafaña has already surpassed his previous career total in that mark, so well done to him and hopefully he can continue the production.
Some of you may wonder why Villafaña didn't get credited for an assist on the first goal. Although occasionally assists are awarded to players who touch the ball before opposing defenders or goalkeepers, generally, if an opposing player touches the ball between the pass and final shot, no assist is awarded. It is perhaps a bit harsh, as Mario de Luna's initial shot from Villafaña's cross ricocheted off San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch, before it bounced back off of de Luna before going into the net. Since Busch touched it, then Villafaña's contribution is wiped clean on the stat books. At least he got credit for the second assist, as Eric Avila was originally awarded it, despite not featuring in the play at all. That has since been corrected.
More players stepping in to score: De Luna got his first MLS goal, and it was well-taken, if a bit lucky. Although Chivas have clearly had their defenders practice on the attack in set pieces, I don't think you can ever count on a center back to be a consistent scoring weapon, but like fellow starter Joaquin Velazquez, he put in the work and got a goal for his efforts, helping Chivas snap their scoreless streak for the month.
The bigger development had to be Tristan Bowen's first goal for the Goats. There were multiple times the last three years where it looked like Bowen wouldn't last much longer on the team, but he has persisted over the course of three seasons and two coaches now, and finally scored Saturday. Bowen and Jose Correa were largely quiet during the first half, but Bowen really stepped up in the second half and became dangerous on two fronts: as a striker and as a winger. If this goal will give him the confidence to continue to improve and hopefully start producing consistently, then the San Jose game could become a real turning point in his career with Chivas. And for the team overall, nine players have scored this season, so the scoring load is being picked up by a substantial contingent of the team. And really, that's how it's going to have to be if Chivas are to really become successful over the course of the season.
Three players get in on the action: Chelís continued his policy of giving new players minutes, awarding the start in defense to Steve Purdy, who had a solid debut for the Goats overall. It was his first MLS start in almost exactly a year, as he last played for the Portland Timbers on April 28, 2012. Purdy doesn't have a major amount of experience at MLS level, but it was nice for him to get in the game and to play the full match on the back line in a tough game.
In addition, the manager gave Jose Manuel Rivera his MLS debut as a second half sub, and Rivera looked pretty good in getting a couple of diagonal crosses into the box late in the game. While I wondered if Rivera was really up to the challenge since he hadn't gotten any minutes yet, his cameo on the field makes me believe he should at least be given a shot to see how he'll do with more minutes.
And the youngest Goat, Marky Delgado, got his 2013 first team debut in coming off the bench late in the game. Like Rivera, he didn't have a ton of time to distinguish himself, but he did a great job of taking the ball into the right corner, dribbling around two defenders to waste time, then getting off a cross into the box. While Busch was able to grab the cross without a shot coming in, it still showed that Delgado had the patience to take defenders on, then attempt to set up a goal in a high-pressure situation.
With the debuts on the night, Chivas maintains its streak of every player who has played this season being involved with at least one draw or win, and leaves only three players still awaiting their 2013 first team debuts: defender Emilio Orozco and goalkeepers Tim Melia and Patrick McLain. McLain is away on his loan with the LA Blues at the moment, but he or Melia could get the nod in Chivas' U.S. Open Cup game next month, and with Orozco the only outfield player awaiting his chance, he'll get it at some point.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!