Let's all flashback to Opening Day, when Bobby Burling came out of nowhere to bring Chivas USA a fantastic game-winning header in extra time. Team morale was high and fans were buzzing, not just because of the win, but because of the forecasting value it had for a team of fresh new faces. After all, Chivas USA had just gone undefeated in the preseason.
The team followed up the effort by grinding out a 1-1 tie against a dynamic Vancouver side while down a man. Following a tough 3-1 loss at Dallas, they came back and again, grinded out a 1-1 tie at New York.
But we shouldn't have been duped by that decent start. People forget that the team nearly blew a 2 goal lead to a Mike Magee-less Chicago Fire after Burling came to the rescue in that home opener. The team also coughed up 2 points in New York, when the Red Bulls equalized in extra time. Reality quickly set in week 6 when the Galaxy thumped us at home.
Going into week 14, the current state of the team is a long way away from the fervor fans experienced in week 1. The squad currently sits in the Western Conference and MLS basement with 10 points, and sits near the bottom of the league with 13 goals scored (2nd to last), 25 goals allowed (2nd to last), and a goal differential of -12 (dead last).
How does this production, or lack thereof, compare with the futile CUSA teams of the past?
Through 13 games (Goals For/Goals Against), Goal Differential:
- 2014 - 10pts (13/25), GD: -12
- 2013 - 11pts (13/26),GD: -13
- 2012 - 15pts (8/15), GD: -7
- 2011 - 17pts (16/14), GD: +2
- 2010 - 10pts (14/20), GD: -6
- 2009 - 27pts (18/9), GD: +9
- 2008 - 17pts (19/19), GD: 0
- 2007- 20pts (18/13), GD: +5
- 2006 - 18pts (21/18), GD: -3
- 2005 - 6pts (13/30), GD: -17
First things first, 2005 will forever be a black mark in chivas history as no team will be able to match the futility that team endured. That aside, 2013 clearly sits near or at the bottom of all major categories and it's only the stench from 2013 that's still fresh in our mind that masks how bad this start has really been.
It's becoming clearer that this young 2014 CUSA squad is the type of team that grinds its ways to ties and, at times, their inexperience leads them to blowing late leads into ties (or even losses). On other days, they'll just get blown out of the water. This is the unfortunate truth. They have yet to single-handedly dominate a game. And despite winning 3-1 in Colorado, they finished that game with low 35% possession, with 65 percent pass accuracy, and allowed 18 shots to their 6.
This team is built to make fans feel fantastic when they get results, mainly because they'll continue to struggle keeping clean sheets and scoring goals. At this stage all that can be asked for player development, a growth in team chemistry, relatively aggressive tactics from Wilmer Cabrera (especially at home), and most importantly, player hustle.
Cabrera has a history of doing good things with young talent and it will take time for this team to completely buy into his system, their teammates, and themselves. A good amount of the roster is filled with players that have yet to prove themselves in the league and that's the sign of a team that yet has to develop an identity. The first step is to find that identity and embrace it and only then will the pieces start falling into place through experience. In other words, have patience.
I realize this has been a rather depressing post, but there is hope. This team is loaded with young talent with plenty of potential. The season is still only 13 games old and CUSA gets 21 more to right the ship. While a playoff berth is fading in the distance, it's still within sight.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!