Carson, California. Grab the lead. I can probably rephrase that in better terms: go up first! But, there's an addendum to that, which is "hold the lead," something Chivas was unable to do. Tonight's home match saw Chivas USA take an early lead against the visiting Sounders in the 5th minute after an Erick Torres penalty kick.
Leandro Barrera was taken down in the box after a beautiful pass from Marco Delgado, making his first start of the season, resulting in a penalty awarded. Of course, head coach Wilmer Cabrera selected "Cubo" to nail it home. Without question, Torres slotted in to the right while Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei dove left. The result was a Goats' lead that they didn't want to relinquish.
However, in the 24th minute, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy failed to grab the ball when the opportunity presented itself. The opportunity was there, but the ability was absent as Kennedy missed and Seattle's Lamar Neagle nailed home a quick pass from Chad Marshall to even the score. To make matters far worse, Delgado received a questionable red card in the match's 73rd minute in a solid challenge against the Sounders' Gonzalo Pineda. This play enable Seattle to play a man up for the final twenty minutes.
Seattle's man advantage definitely assisted them with controlling the game against Chivas. Playing a man down certainly hindered our boys in defending a vaunted Sounders attack. This deficiency eventually opened up the field for Seattle to score once more with an Obafemi Martins goal on an assist from Clint Dempsey. Here we all saw a basic reversal of fortunes as Martins and Dempsey exchanged roles. Their footwork provided the Sounders with the one-goal lead they needed to secure three points.
Here's what we learned from tonight's match:
Consistency. Playing together on the pitch for extended periods of time results in positive ends. Through seven matches, the Rojiblancos have started six different lineups. Last match saw forward and converted midfielder Thomas McNamara go down due to a serious knee injury. Unfortunately, McNamara will be out for quite some time, leaving Marky Delgado to the task of filling in. Luckily for Chivas, Delgado received plenty of pitch time last year under Jose Luis Real. Without question, Delgado responded to the start well and showed the enormous potential that was exhibited on a regular basis throughout last year.
Needless to say, a similar starting eleven would definitely add to the club's consistency and increase our winning percentage. Hopefully, the Goats' injuries will subside and the squad can begin to gain a familiarity with one another that leads to success on the pitch.
Get the ball! Chivas struck first, but not last. This squad has a certain personnel that requires possession time in order to equate to success. Fullbacks Eric Avila and Andrew Jean-Baptiste dominated the sidelines and held Seattle's attack to relatively few goal-scoring opportunities throughout the first half. Words would be difficult for me to find in order to adequately describe how well both players have adjusted to their new positions. For this writer, both their assimilations to new positions has resulted in two very definable facts: fewer goals for the opponent coupled with an increase in the Goats' possession time. More possession leads to more goals and less goals for the opponent. In this case, Chivas slowed down the previously relentless Sounders attack. Thank you, Eric and Andrew!
Hustle. To reiterate: hustle. When two teams are unevenly matched, the lesser squad needs to outwork the superior one. In Chivas' case, Seattle is currently taking most of their MLS opponents by storm. In particular, USMNT captain Dempsey has already knocked in six goals this season and was looking for more against Dan Kennedy and Chivas. To his dismay, Avila, Jean-Baptiste (and later Donny Toia), Carlos Bocanegra and a returning Bobby Burling shut him down...from scoring, though he set up both of the Sounders' goals. in the end, Dempsey's pass proved to be the dagger that prevented the Goats from securing a home point against a conference rival.
Next Saturday will see our Goats travel north to San Jose in order to compete with the Quakes. This match should prove to be instrumental in determining the outcome of this young season. The Goats need points and here's a golden opportunity to accumulate a few more. Go get them like you need them...
What do you think? Leave a comment below!