Chivas USA played well in the first half, doing a decent job maintaining possession and creating opportunities, but lacked the most important thing in any soccer game -- a goal. As a result, CUSA extended their winless streak to 7 games, losing 1-0 to the Earthquakes and leaving more attainable points behind in Santa Clara.
Here are 10 observations from the game:
Did Cabrera's rant make a difference?- After the Seattle game and Marky Delgado's expulsion, Wilmer Cabrera went on the attack and placed the blame on the refs for not giving CUSA the same treatment they'd give other, more established teams. He got his fine, but the real question would be whether his rant would have any effect on future officiating. I don't know if it was tied to it, but SJ did receive 3 early yellows in a span of 13 minutes, but amassed only one more foul than CUSA (15 to 14), so things were pretty even. (Yeah, CUSA did get that red card, but this one was actually warranted).
Alvarez looking more confident - With Thomas McNamara now gone for the season, Carlos Alvarez has been given the opportunity of taking over the CAM spot in the lineup, a position he saw regularly during his rookie year. He had a rough go leading the attack in his previous appearances, but against San Jose he appeared to be more decisive, confident, and comfortable in his approach to the game. Perhaps it was due to SJ giving up so much space in the hole, but Alvarez still showed great touch on the ball and finished the game completing 30 of 34 of his passes.
More Trouble with Speedy Wingers - You couldn't help but be a bit concerned the moment Yannick Djalo entered the game. In what's becoming a common trend, CUSA has struggled mightily to contain each and every speedy winger they've faced this season and Djalo would be no different. He immediately changed the game and San Jose appears to have something special on their hands.
SJ Exploited CUSA's High Line - It's good to see Cabrera have his players play a relatively attack-minded style of ball for an away game, and for the most part, the strategy was successful. CUSA got plenty of scoring opportunities and did a good job on possession. The high press not only allowed CUSA to keep the ball in the attacking half of the field, it also forced SJ to make bad passes out of their backline, which led to a good amount of CUSA interceptions and quick counters. On the other hand, SJ exploited this high line by booting the ball over the CUSA backline and allowing their attackers to get behind the defense, forcing Dan Kennedy (and Tim Melia) to make rash decisions
Kennedy Sees Red - Yup, yet another red card. As described in the point above, San Jose was able to get the ball behind the defense and Kennedy found himself in a loose ball situation with Alan Gordon. DK could've retreated back to goal, but he was already out of position and he would've left himself vulnerable to a simple chip shot goal by Gordon. Instead DK decides to stick around and challenge the ball, but Gordon's able to get to it first, leaving DK no choice but to put a hand on it. This "professional red card" prevents SJ from scoring their 2nd goal and kept CUSA within reach of a tie (albeit at the expense of having 10 men to do it.)
Bofo for Rosales - In the 69th minute, Mauro Rosales was subbed out for Bofo Bautista. Considering SJ had scored only 3 minutes earlier, it seemed to be a strange, if not unacceptable sub but it made sense when Rosales was seen limping off the field. It all stems from this rough challenge from Jordan Stewart and Rosales was later seen calling for a sub. There's no report as to the extent of the injury and considering the lack of transparency, we may never know. Needless to say, if Rosales misses time, CUSA would be losing by far their most important player.
Run, Leandro, Run (to the corner) - Throughout the game, CUSA would flood the right on the attack then switch to the left to the open Leandro Barrera. This switch allowed Barrera to use his speed and take advantage of open spaces. Unlike the past few games, he seemed to have resorted back to his "run to the corner, blindly boot it into the box" routine, which has been somewhat inefficient considering the lack of players that actually venture into the box. Even when he's not near the sideline, the tendency pops up. (He's like that guy that leaves everyone frustrated in pickup games). On top of that, Barrera's crosses haven't been exactly accurate - only 7 of his 18 total crosses were successful. This is partly why CUSA's attack has become predictably ineffective and the only reasons teams have been unable to stop something they already expect on the wing is due to Barrera's speed.
Shot Selection - Erick Torres still appears to be a bit impatient on his shot and I'm starting to wonder if he's feeling too much pressure to try and produce. CUSA had enough possession in the attacking half to create plenty of opportunities at goal but just couldn't finish (including this oh so close moment). The team currently ranks 15th in MLS with 11.6 shots per game, but ranks 18th with 3.4 shots on target, so not only is the team not getting enough shots, they're not even accurate with them. In Saturday's case, they had 15 total shots, but 10 of them were off target and they launched enough of them over the goal that I'm pretty sure they left Santa Clara with a few dents on the scoreboard.
Possession has Improved - Despite the lack of results, CUSA has done a decent job of improving their possession and it's been evidenced in their past few games.
|@ New York||
|@ San Jose||50%|
The aim is around 50+% and the past 3 games have been encouraging, especially since two of those games have been on the road.
Melia's Performance - Tim Melia is now entering his 3rd season with the club and its great to see him finally get his chance. It's tough for any player to come on without warning and be ready to play top-level ball, but Melia did a great job in closing out the game in San Jose. He had a Save of the Week caliber save in the 81st minute and will need to be ready to fill in for Super Dan against a formidable Houston side in week 9.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!