It took a lot longer than some might have expected, but Chivas USA has made the rugged climb from near the West basement to first place in the conference. Sure, the gap between first place and sixth place is only three points, but for the Goats, the climb was a victory of sorts.
Moral victories is all the Earthquakes seem to have these days, and even those are hard to come by. The expansion club figured to struggle this season, but things are starting to get ugly.
SBI correspondents John Sandate and Kevin Matthiessen took in the action last Saturday and shared their thoughts with us.
Goats keep climbing up West standings
By JOHN SANDATE
Three more points. Three more points. Three more points. The more I say it, the happier it makes me feel knowing that the Western Conference is not on par with the Eastern Conference. Well, at least not yet. Tonight Chivas USA dismantled, no destroyed, no obliterated the San Jose Earthquakes. Actually, they just beat the Earthquakes on a brilliant free kick by MLS Original Gangster, Ante Razov. The game was really a war of attrition, back and forth. Realistically, Chivas owned the ball and did what they pleased. Frank Yallop’s side played like he did, defensive. The Earthquakes showed plenty of heart throughout the game. With players like Ronnie O’Brien, Nick Garcia, and Ramiro Corrales, they almost had nothing else to offer. There some bursts of attack but it really was an exercise in futility. The Chivas midfield of Pablo Nagamura and fellow MLS OG Jesse Marsch just continued on as always.
Don’t get me wrong, this not Chivas’ best game of the season or anything like that. It’s just that, against this version of the Earthquakes, Chivas looked like it was playing keep away for most of the night. I can think of another team who has as much ball possession as Chivas. I counted numerous 7-8-9 touch passes. However, on the down side, all that passing couldn’t penetrate a 5-6 man wall that San Jose kept putting out in front of the box. Chivas had some shots in front of the box, but once again the opposing goalkeeper played the game of their life to save their team from impending defeat.
Despite suffering from one of the worse stretches of games earlier this season, Chivas has put together some decent efforts and have first place to show for it. That’s really not saying much in the Western Conference, but with the Super Clasico against the hated Galaxy, any momentum is still momentum.
Random notes: I think Raphael Wicky is in the witness protection program. He didn’t play and neither did Jorge Flores. Panchito Mendoza went back to left wing and was substituted out by Justin Braun. Harris got the start at forward and played well. Not great, but good enough to frustrate the SJ defense. Sacha looked tired but he always looks that way right before scoring goals and passing off to the forwards.
Carey Talley looks reborn. Ante Razov is getting into serious form. I’m almost sorry I called him old weeks ago. I hope he stays healthy from here on out. Jesse and Nags, they just hold the ball and break up plays. Can you say, “Bread and butter?” Bobby Burling is turning into a defense wall. He’s not that fast and not that experienced but he played next to Claudio Suarez. Seriously, how can you not learn playing next a legend?
Latest Quakes loss reveals some players who need to go
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
After making a deal with my daughter that we’ll skip story time and go see a movie tomorrow instead, I sat down on my couch to watch the Earthquakes battle Chivas USA. She could stay up late with me but she’d have to be quiet as a mouse so that Daddy can concentrate. After all, I do have to write about the game so it’s important that I be able to concentrate.
Turns out that was a bad deal. The story I got was poorly scripted, poorly read, and the cast was no good. There was no hero and there was no happy ending. Sure there were a few good cameos from Joe Cannon, Ronnie O’Brien and Nick Garcia but that didn’t make up for the drone of mediocrity on the night as a whole. Actually they played well the whole night unfortunately there were eight others and the Chivas team that made up the whole cast of characters.
If you read my last piece, you know I like a team that plays with passion. I like guys that yell. I like guys that look mad. I like guys that play tough. On Saturday night, those guys were none other than Cannon, O’Brien, and Garcia. (I didn’t actually see Garcia yelling and screaming but I’ll assume he did off-camera.) O’Brien was all over the field, playing with passion and motivating his teammates.
Kei Kamara played the whole game and put in another forgettable performance. No, scratch that… another laughable performance. In all fairness, his first touch was a bit better than last week but he must have been concentrating so much on that first touch, that by the time he started thinking about what to do next, it was already too late. His passing was terrible and his shooting was even worse.
Normally, I’m a patient man. I believe that people should be given a chance. Sometimes two, sometimes three chances. But for goodness sakes it’s time to put Kamara on the bench, trade him, or loan him out. With Kamara, I’m counting 10 good chances. He’s only scored twice now and honestly if it weren’t for two immaculate touches by fellow-former-Crew member Grabavoy, he’d have zero.
Oh and while you’re at it, why don’t you try to offload James Riley too. Like Kamara, he was one of my favorites at the beginning of the season, but has proved to be a liability. He’s just an own goal, and a red card away waiting to happen anytime he steps on the field. While it’s easy to criticize a players ability, it’s a little harder to criticize their mentality. That said, I’m sorry but I just don’t think Riley has a good "football brain".
So here we are, still waiting for reinforcements. Yes, us ‘Quakes fans are counting the days until Christmas the July 15th transfer window. We’ve sent our wish lists to Santa Claus John Doyle and we’re hoping that we get something good under our Christmas eucalyptus tree this year-like a couple of strikers, and a couple of creative midfielders. From what I hear it looks like we could be unwrapping a Darren Huckerby, a Pablo Campos, and a Francisco Lima. That sounds real good. And how about a Christian Gimenez too? I promise I’ll be good all year!
Galaxy here they come.