Before the season began, a Chivas USA-FC Dallas match might have been seen as a potential Western Conference final between two young teams that showed great promise in 2007. A month into the new season and only one of these two has lived up to that promise.
FC Dallas remained unbeaten while Chivas USA remained unhinged in the Hoops’ 2-0 victory against the Goats on Sunday night. Yes, Sacha Kljestan was suspended, but his absence alone couldn’t account for another poor team performance by Chivas USA.
FC Dallas had its own absences, including Columbian playmaker Juan Toja. It didn’t matter though, as its improving defense and streaking striker Kenny Cooper helped put this one out of reach.
SBI Correspondents Casey Corcoran and John Sandate took in the action and provide us with their views on the game:
Hoops show depth and quality in big road win
By CASEY CORCORAN
To the casual fan of MLS, the fan who keeps up with all the big wheeling and dealing, the big name signings and the headlining names, FC Dallas added Dulio Davino and lost Carlos Ruiz. It is perfectly fair to think that FCD had a very quiet off season, especially for a team that lost its target man. Steve Morrow did not take to the critics who pointed out the lack of a prized striker. FCD did not utilize its designated player slot, and even left salary cap room open. For a team that collapsed two-thirds of the way through last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs, one might expect some more noticeable changes. The real trick is how you look for changes.
Sure, FCD switched to three in the back, obviously a big change, but I would argue that Morrow’s real masterwork move of the offseason was his work on this team’s weakest area, depth. While the new formation is well tailored to the personnel Mr. Morrow has at his disposal, no formation works all that well when you lose key starters. Our first real example this year came on Sunday night, the same night Dallas was watching the Stars close out a first round series, FCD shutout Chivas USA two to nil.
Originally this writer pegged this game as a must win, not in the sense that the team needed to win, but more that the team should win games where key personnel are missing on the opposing team. Sacha Kljestan and Francisco Mendoza both received red cards last week against Columbus and were serving their one game suspension. Without the heart of the Chivas midfield one would expect FCD to pick up three points, or at the very least one. Even with the whispers coming from the FCD blog about injuries I had no idea that FCD would be playing without their heart at midfield as well. Juan Toja and Pablo Ricchetti both did not play. It was an eerie swap of starters for subs on both sides.
Taking over for Toja was Ricardinho. For Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa filled in. Early in the game FCD showed what might be the biggest surprise this writer has seen all year, some attacking prowess. This current incarnation of hoops is developing quite a potent offense. While the offense if flourishing, the defense is developing in to a decent back three. Kenny Cooper was the benefactor from some nice service from Ricardinho and Dax McCarty early in the game. Later, more FCD depth was exposed when Abe Thompson, not known to be a speedster, beautifully ran down a long through ball from Arturo Alvarez, calmly side stepped two defenders, and eased the ball past the right of Brad Guzan.
Not only did FCD come away from Los Angeles with a win, they did so quite convincingly, and sans a vice captain as well as an all-star. There are still plenty of weaknesses to be worked on for Coach Morrow, but even the most staunch pessimist can see a little bit of light coming from the squad up in Frisco.
A second straight flat performance for the Goats
By JOHN SANDATE
Let’s face the facts; this 2008 version of Chivas USA has failed to sustain the forward progress of last season. One can only imagine what this team would be like if all their players were healthy and playing like with the new additions. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen soon and losing to teams like FC Dallas are going to be more common. It’s not so bad losing to a decent side like FC Dallas or Columbus, but the manner in which the Goats just matriculate down the field with little urgency or passion just makes you wonder if Preki is having a hard time keeping the team focused with so many injuries and suspensions.
Chivas USA lost 2-0 to FC Dallas, in what can only be described as a continuation of the Columbus game two weeks ago. No one is playing like their life depends on it. Sacha Kljestan has shown greatness and vision, and uncontrollable rage, but no one else has shown the same for a whole 90 minutes.
FC Dallas looked like they had a burst of energy for every Chivas attack. Their defense looked like the Great Wall. Their midfield looked like a bunch angry AYSO kids chasing down every ball and pass. Kenny Cooper looks to playing for a spot on the US men’s national team this summer. Arturo Alavarez, yet another Piotr Nowak snub, looked impossible to defend. I guess you can’t really complain about all the things going wrong with Chivas USA without giving FC Dallas their due respect. Here it is, Dallas is good. Chivas USA is not. Dallas played better and was tactically stronger.
Honestly, I don’t know the hell is wrong in Chiva Town, but the Super Classico is coming this Saturday and we all know what that means to us here in LA: war. America’s favorite pub team looked good in the second half and almost beat Houston. If Chivas USA continues its downward spiral into mediocrity, then they can prepare to lose their grip on the Super Clasico trophy from last year.
On another note, it was nice to see the Legion Kalifas entertain itself with a frenetic mosh pit in the stands while ignoring the game. At least they made the most of a bad result while the rest of us witnessed Chivas USA get shutout.