As expected, one of the downtrodden teams that faced off Saturday left the game with a full three points, although the mood remained foul on both sides for very different reasons. The visiting Seattle Sounders promptly dispatched with Chivas USA by a 2-0 scoreline. It was the fourth straight league loss for Chivas, and extends their winless streak in MLS play to seven games. March really does seem like a million years ago at this point, doesn't it?
The Sounders took the lead in the 22nd minute, when Obafemi Martins got a pass from Lamar Neagle, went on a run for goal, and chipped a diving Dan Kennedy. Then, the Goats gave their guests some insurance, as Mario de Luna headed the ball into his own net in the 33rd minute to double Seattle's lead. Mistakes happen, of course, but this was one of the very worst own goals you'll ever see.
Chivas improved their play in the second half somewhat, but while they didn't concede any more goals, their attacking prowess was too often limited to a single player, notably Jorge Villafana at the start of the second half and Tristan Bowen at the end of the game, and they could never get a foothold in the game. Not even when Martins was given a red card in the 71st minute for kicking Gabriel Farfan in the head.
Let's move on to some talking points. Since this was a transition game and Sacha van der Most is expected to be the coach for just this match, we won't get too far into the tactics used, but talk about some of the bigger picture.
Was it a red card? To be honest, I don't think it was a red card. Rachna was running the gamethread and said she thought it was a yellow card-worthy offense, and I pretty much agree with her. Martins and Farfan got tangled up, referee Ricardo Salazar (that name ring a bell? He gave Joaquin Velazquez the red card against the LA Galaxy that was rescinded) was right in front of the play, and Martins did hit Farfan in the back of his head with his foot. Some Chivas fans said he definitely intended to do it, while Sounders fans were up in arms about the injustice of the call. Even 90 minutes after the game, they're crying bloody murder over it.
So I agree that it doesn't look like a red card offense. And I admit I'm cranky, what with the way Seattle fans were moping over their team heading into the game, then got an easy victory over Chivas, and also want to be the victims because they think their player got a bogus red card. I'll be honest: I wish those were the problems Chivas' fans were dealing with right now, because it would mean things were substantially better than they are at the moment.
Four in the back: Chivas played four defenders along the backline for most of the match: Walter Vilchez, Mario de Luna, Joaquin Velazquez, and Bobby Burling. I mean, they "only" lost by two goals this week, so I guess that's better than some of the other games recently. I know Vilchez has switched back and forth between left back and center back in his career, but de Luna as right back? Does he really have experience there? Maybe going all-in on center backs wasn't such a great policy in hindsight?
If you are a fan of the 3-man back line, don't worry, they did play with one for the last 20 minutes, when Chivas were chasing the game and Bowen replaced Vilchez. To be honest, I don't think that's a bad idea, since it was a calculated risk. It didn't hurt, but it didn't help this time, either. But it does indeed look like the team will probably play with four defenders in the back moving forward.
Supporters showing their displeasure: With the reports of a crackdown on Chivas' supporter groups' signs for this game, many eyes were on what would happen relating to the Black Army and Union Ultras. A contingent of Union Ultras reportedly went to the airport tonight to see Chelís off and wish him well - a subtle commentary, perhaps, about the firing of the coach earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Black Army apparently circumvented the stricter rules about posting signs critical of the ownership. In addition to staying vocal on twitter all night, they also hung their group banner upside down, as a sign of distress, and emerged at one point in the game with critical banners of Jorge Vergara. I think it is safe to say that there will probably be more flash points between the SGs and club management, but hopefully it does not escalate too much or reach a breaking point. The members of the Union Ultras and Black Army, after all, make up a substantial proportion of the most loyal fans of the team, and alienating them is really playing with fire for a club that is in complete disarray at the moment.
Looking ahead: Chivas have an 17 day break in MLS play, before they face the Vancouver Whitecaps in a midweek match June 19. They do have another competitive game in the meantime, when they take on the Carolina RailHawks June 12 in the U.S. Open Cup. Rest during the season has tended to make Chivas very rusty, but with the terrible form they are in and the new coach who will need some time to learn his team and make the adjustments he wants, the break could possibly do Chivas a great deal of good. We'll have to wait and see, of course.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!