For those of you looking for a new page to be turned in Chivas USA's 2013 saga, Wednesday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps did show some changes to recent patterns. In the pattern that matters, however, the result remained the same, as Chivas USA lost 3-1 at BC Place. The game started brightly for the Goats, as they attacked from the outset and even took the lead in the 7th minute on a brilliant goal from Tristan Bowen. But although it looked like they would take the lead into the half, Vancouver nabbed two goals in first half injury time, the first from Jordan Harvey on a bit of a lucky bounce in the 47th minute, and Camilo with a beautiful conversion after a terrific pass from Russell Teibert in the 49th.
From there, the game was effectively over, as the Whitecaps had the momentum going into the second half and pushed all half for an equalizer. Though Chivas started the match off so brightly, they could not get their attack in any kind of rhythm after the first 20 minutes. While they ultimately conceded three goals, they played better defensively than they have in recent months, so I guess that's something? At any rate, the capper on the match was scored by Camilo in the 81st minute, when Vancouver dazzled the Goats with their passing around and in the box, and the Brazilian hit a shot that was deflected into goal.
With that, let's go to the talking points:
Better, but nowhere near good enough: After Bowen hit that goal, and it was a peach, Vancouver was stunned for most of the first half. That reversed the trend for the Goats, in which they would sleepwalk through the first hour or so of a match before showing signs of life, usually much too late. At least in this game, they took the early lead, and while they weren't playing great, it was better than what they've been doing of late. But they couldn't hang on, and they wilted more and more as the game progressed. Basically, they inverted the prevailing trend this season.
So they played better overall. But let's keep this in perspective: when the team is on a five-match losing streak in the league, "losing less badly" isn't a spectacular accomplishment. Sure, a turnaround wouldn't take place in a day, but this team can't afford to really mess around with games, unless the season is essentially over by this point (and that's a depressing thought, truly). If this is actually the start of an upward trajectory for the team, then that's fine. But if losing just goes on, and on, and on, and on, well then playing a little better isn't any kind of consolation.
There's a complete striker crisis: Chivas started Jose Correa as a target forward, once again, and Tristan Bowen was given the freedom to float around the field as the support striker. Before the game, I said it would be a "miracle" if either of those players scored tonight. So Bowen proved me wrong (although, come to think of it, that goal could be described as miraculous, no?). But let's be real: Chivas USA are in a complete crisis as far as their forward situation. I'll probably be writing more on this tomorrow, but suffice it to say that the strikers who remain on the team (that means excepting Juan Agudelo and Giovani Casillas, and with Julio Morales' status in doubt at the moment) have scored a grand total of two goals. Of course, there are only three forwards currently on the team, four if you include Miller Bolanos (by the way, where on earth is he?). Something's got to give here, and to continue relying on Bowen and Correa seems to be a fatal mistake.
What adjustments will be made ahead of Sunday? Chivas have a big game against the LA Galaxy on Sunday. The SuperClasico is always special, and if they want to manage another result against their rivals, the Goats are going to have to make some adjustments, and fast. Jose Luis Real played a four-man backline most of the game, although the players seemed to fall back into the habit of playing just three in the back on multiple occasions during the match. Oswaldo Minda sat back and often dropped into the defense to provide support, an interesting strategy that I'm not sure is effective or not. The team had intensity to start the match, but they became very disjointed in the second half. Mario de Luna did clear two balls off the line at the end of the game to keep the score line respectable, but results-wise, it was too little, too late. Can Real get the team up, slap some band-aids on the big flaws in the roster, and marshal them to a result against the Galaxy? It's going to be a stiff test, but we will learn the answer in four short days.
Looking ahead: The Galaxy game is
looming coming! Can Chivas shock MLS again in the battle of LA?
What do you think? Leave a comment below!