What happened to Chivas USA? After rattling off three straight wins, the Goats had the look of the team that finished first in the regular season. Now, after two straight shutout losses, Chivas USA is reeling again.
Real Salt Lake knows all about bad streaks, but RSL is currently riding a pretty good one. How good? Try a 3-2-1 mark in its past six matches, which qualifies as a very good stretch for the perennial strugglers from Utah. No, their win against the Goats wasn’t pretty, but the three points sure are.
SBI correspondents Scott McAllister and John Sandate watched the action and shared their views on the match with us:
Winning ugly is still winning for surging RSL
By SCOTT McALLISTER
What do you say when your team gets their first road win of the season, but they didn’t exactly play an inspiring match? The sound of the final whistle was a relief.
It was a match that won’t be remembered for its beauty, as RSL played the part of the disrupter, just stepping in to break up Chivas’ passing, for much of the evening. With the exception of the half hour following Findley’s goal in the 34th minute where Salt Lake looked hungry to keep the ball for more than a few touches. That hunger wouldn’t last, as Chivas pressed desperately for the last 20 minutes, taking nearly complete control of the match. RSL did well to absorb each surge of attack from the Goats, but the bunkering method was hard to watch as a goal from the home side always felt eminent.
Watching a match where the winning team gets outplayed is not a foreign site for supporters of RSL, the 1-0 loss to Toronto in April comes to mind. However, being on the winning end of that situation is refreshing. Also, not allowing a goal in the final ten minutes is an accomplishment the Salt Lake defense should be proud of. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando wasn’t exactly bored on the night, but most of his saves were fairly routine. That was a good sign that the back-line was doing its job. It also helps when shots, like the one taken by Justin Braun when facing Rimando on a break away, were directed right at the goalkeeper.
The goal was coolly finished by Robbie Findley, who was put through on a perfect ball from Kyle Beckerman allowing him to blaze past his defender Carey Talley. Findley then took advantage of the Chivas goalkeeper who came off his line far too early, slotting the ball into an open net. It’s nice to see Findley finding his scoring touch. In previous outings you could see that he was getting frustrated. That is until he hit that rocket against the Earthquakes a few weeks ago. Scoring this second one in as many weeks it’s an encouraging sign that he could on his way to many more.
The win was enough to give Salt Lake its longest unbeaten streak of the year in league play. And there’s a very real chance they could keep it going this week as San Jose makes their third visit – one being an Open Cup game – to Rice-Eccles this year in the middle of the week. The league’s top team follows on Saturday.
Another loss for suddenly cold Chivas USA
By JOHN SANDATE
Chivas USA lost another home game to a seemingly weaker opponent. I can think of few other words that can describe losing to Real Salt Lake, but pathetic might be too harsh. Then again it’s almost clockwork that Chivas USA finds a way to lose a game rather than just go for the jugular and impose it’s will. There was nothing flashy, exciting, or even interesting in this game. Unless you like countless, wasted scoring chances, marching bands playing USC fight songs at a soccer game, or RSL players diving continuously in the last 20 minutes, this game had all the entertainment value of a C-Span press conference.
I don’t like sounding negative, but I can’t drink the kool aid all the time. This was not Chivas USA football. This was a new line up of players coming off the injured list starting in place of players who helped this team win three out of the last four games. I believe in loyalty and rewarding players that deserve it, but this line up looked flustered and lost at times. Change is a good thing, but unlike Barack Obama’s campaign, this was not change I could believe in. This seems to be the time of the season where players start to step up and contending teams start to assert themselves for a run before the MLS all-Star game. Chivas seemed to be the victim of over-coaching. For example, Jorge Flores was rewarded for his 3 goals in four games by sitting on the bench for both halves of this game. This seemed like change for the sake of change.
Real Salt Lake came to play, however terrible to look at it may have been, they imposed their style and walked away with 3 points. By Preki’s own admission those players that started for Chivas USA were not “sharp” and as a result, Chivas USA soccer was dull tonight. The 4-5-1 that RSL ran was as easy on the eyes as Britney Spear’s shaved head, but there was no denying Robbie Findley’s speed on the flank and the constant strain he put on the Chivas back-line. Proper respect to him and all the RSL divers that slowed the game to a grinding halt.
It’s hard to come away from this game and think that this team is the defending Western Conference champion and started this 2008 MLS season with high hopes. Now, I’m just praying that this team gets healthier and we stick to a successful starting XI.
On the way out of the stadium, a driver spotted Jorge Flores driving out with a dejected look on his young face. The driver asked him why he didn’t play tonight. He yelled back, “I don’t know, ask the coach.” Maybe change isn’t always a good thing.