Remember last year, toward the end of the regular season, when a Houston Dynamo-Chivas USA West Final had many fans drooling at the potential match-up? Houston’s stingy defense and Chivas USA’s dangerous attack. It was going to be a great battle.
That battle never happened. Chivas USA suffered injuries and a shock first-round exit while the Dynamo rolled to a second straight title. The two sides finally did meet but it still looked far from a conference final. Neither team could muster a goal as Houston remained winless and the Goats continued to wonder why this year’s team is so much less dangerous than the 2007 edition.
SBI Correspondents Alex Swaim and John Sandate took in the action and give us their takes on the scoreless match in Houston.
Goals and wins in rare supply for Dynamo
By ALEX SWAIM
There’s one world floating around the Dynamo that seems to fit the situation: frustrating.
They’re saying it in the locker room. They’re saying it in the stands. They’re saying it on the internet. They’re saying it on the streets.
That’s really the best word for the current run of form for the Dynamo, it’s just frustrating.
Ignoring that first game in New England, La Naranja has dominated the competition but the results haven’t come. That suspect defense from preseason has suddenly become passable, both before and after Eddie Robinson’s mandatory vacation. The midfield has dominated over the past few games, controlling the flow and pace of the match.
But it’s just not good enough. The midfield is still having problems from time to time – anybody else notice Ricardo Clark yelling at Dwayne DeRosario going into the tunnel at half time? They are the slightest amount out of sync, and it’s causing missed chances. Those are important, given the amount of chances the Dynamo are missing.
I have to say, credit to Chivas for getting the point. They came in to play physical, keep play from flowing, and attack cautiously. They did their job, earning a sparse four yellow cards and one game-saving red. Nothing is more irksome to fans of the other team like a game-saving red card. Sacha Kljestan did a good job keeping Stuart Holden in check and Jonathan Bornstein somehow kept Brian Mullan from roaming completely unchecked down the right flank. Despite losing two defenders during the run of play they held solid.
That being said, I’m getting tired of this kind of gameplan against the Dynamo. I know, nobody is going to attack against a team that can control the game so well – especially when they can’t break you down because they lack the decisive touch – but it makes the games hard to watch. Every game is like a playoff game against the New England Revolution.
And that’s really what it comes down to. The Dynamo can’t beat anybody when the other team tries for a point. Like we saw in Columbus, even teams playing at home are forced to throw eight players in the box and attack on the counter. I know not every game is going to have a symphony of bad misses, bad final touches (here’s looking at you, Franco Caraccio) and SBI Weekly First XI goalkeepers but it comes to a point where the combination feels like insanity. It sure gets to be frustrating. The crowd of 20,000+ deserves better than that showing.
Speaking of things that deserve to be better, let me once again stoke the supine equine. The refs in MLS are terrible. This one in particular seemed to adhere to the Mickey Mouse philosophy – the dirt and grime of normal play don’t exist at all but the characterizable offenses should receive divine judgment. I’m just saying, when Taylor Twellman tries a bicycle kick, it gets hundreds of replaying on Boston’s own ESPN. When Holden tries it, it’s a yellow for reckless play. The ref called a bad game. He let too much go early, couldn’t reign it back in, gave out yellows to compensate, and then couldn’t punish anybody any further without giving a red. Maykel Galindo is lucky to be playing in the next game. And not a single card for time wasting? Really?
But it’s just frustrating that the ref let play go on like that, it doesn’t excuse all the just-too-high crosses, heavy first touches, missed shots, and Claudio-Suarez-chopping-Brian-Ching-downs. Until the team fixes those problems (by scoring early goals to open games up), it’s just going to be frustrating.
Not a win, but some positive signs for Chivas USA
By JOHN SANDATE
Depending on your perspective, you can either laud the performance of Brad Guzan (which is deserved) or you can question whether this is the best that Chivas USA can do against a team that has yet to win a game this season. I’m not so sure. This game had stretches where either team was certain to pounce on the other’s defense. The reality is that both Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA are only now starting to look like last year’s squads.
Houston looked liked they were ready to remind Chivas why they are two time defending champs. Franco Caraccio looked took take charge on his own and then disappeared. Dwayne DeRosario also had some good looks but no luck. However, the story of this match was Chivas resorting to “bunker ball” to preserve the road tie. No attack, no problem. A point is a point.
Sacha Kljestan and Ante Razov were great on the counterattack when given chances. Pancho (don’t call me Panchito) Mendoza once again proved why he leads Chivas in turnovers. No one passes to the defense better than the he does. Oh yeah, that’s right, turnovers are not a stat in soccer. Also, somebody needs to tell Maykel Galindo to concentrate on scoring and not yelling at everybody that gets in his way. Has he scored this season? Ay, Papi!
All is not bad in Chivalandia, the defense was in everyone’s face and other than a few lucky breaks and Claudio going ankle high on Mullan, they had their best game. Credit must be given to Houston for holding the ball as they pleased despite their lack of finishing. You can see that they miss Jaqua AND Ngwenya. Ching can’t do it all.
A 0-0 game did have some moments of chippy fouls and aggressive play, but that’s expected from these two teams. An ugly draw is still good for a point. Let’s face it; the weakest part of this game was the officiating. The ref was an obstruction and clueless on maintaining control of the game. I’m not mentioning his name, but he needs to go back to AYSO games fro seasoning.
One final note, thank you Brad Guzan for reminding us that you are one of the best when your head is in the game.
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Yes, the words do matter; especially to soccer fans in the US. In legal terms, a riot is “a disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a disrupting and tumultuous manner in carrying out their private purposes.” This event certainly meets that definition. But in general layman’s terms, a riot implies a large-scale civil disturbance, usually resulting in large numbers of injuries and damage to property, commonly including looting, arson, throwing of projectiles, and extreme resistance to efforts by police to end the violence; such as the LA riots of 92. Or look at the riots that are associated with football hooliganism in England and Europe in general including the Heysel disaster and the attack of English fans on North Africans during France 98.
That is the kind of thing that Americans who fear or don’t like soccer expect the sport will bring to this country, and as this news spreads I guarantee that people will latch on to the word riot and describe the event with that word and all that it implies, whether they are Jim Rome-like personalities who just hate soccer or they are merely looking for a sensational story to attract readers/viewers.
This is not to say that I don’t take the situation seriously; I do, and I wish more people had been arrested. I’m particularly disturbed that someone was stabbed in the fight, apparently by a member of El Batallón (though the UHPD report makes it clear that they are not certain of the description’s accuracy). But reading the eyewitness account of the event on mls rumors it seems to me that the fight started after a Chivas fan felt insulted by the response a Dynamo fan made to their taunts, started fighting and the fight escalated to a brawl as friends/fellow supporters on each side got involved.
I think it is vital to the growth and success of soccer in the US that MLS and the supporters groups respond swiftly and severely to this situation, but I also think it just as vital that we not spread the use of the world “riot” to describe the event, thus feeding the fears and prejudices of those who truly want soccer in this country to disappear.
Large riot/brawl…do the words matter?
How is Ngwenya doing in Austria? We need his speed to stretch the D and the negative tactics we are sure to see more and more of.
I was at the game. Reading the report on MLS rumors and Fallas’s blog were the first I knew of the incident, or of any trouble at all. Like Eric, my perception was that there were maybe 20 people way up near the top of the stands representing La Legion. I saw maybe 5 other people around wearing Chivas jerseys. Everyone else was in orange. I agree that the situation sounds terrible but I think the phrase “riot” to describe it is excessive; perhaps a large brawl would describe the incident better. Remember that the police report was not Houston Police Dept but University of Houston Police, who have already shown that they don’t like the Dynamo fans.
There was no fighting in the stadium. As a matter of fact i can count in two hands how many chivas fans i saw. The crowd was great.
What about the riot and stabbing in the parking lot after the game? I know Ives doesn’t like a certain site that curries exclusively in rumors about MLS, but it seems like there is very solid evidence of some disturbing fan behavior (including a police report noting the stabbing).
So… what was the atmosphere in the stadium like?