Chivas USA 2007 Review: Stalking Horses…with a Limp

Chivas USA
Record (W-L-T): 15-7-8; 46 GF, 28 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster (whoa…updated already)

It can’t possibly be so simple, can it?  Surely, the reasons for Chivas USA’s first-round exit from the playoffs don’t begin and end with the absence of starting forwards Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov.  There has to be something else.  Right?

The truth is, I don’t really know.  On some unconscious level, Chivas USA has taken over the role that the Kansas City Wizards had held previously – e.g. they’re the team I’m most likely to forget.  The funny thing about that is the impression that I’m not alone.  For those unfamiliar with the regular season practices of this space, I compiled something called Collective Power Rankings, which amounted to averaging all the independently compiled power rankings I could find and averaging the numbers.  Somewhere way back – further back than the oldest collective rankings I could find (well, that used Chivas USA as a tag) – I, along with everyone except Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno, suddenly noticed a couple things about Chivas USA.

First, they had a stellar record at home.  More significantly, however, they had an unbelievable defensive record at home: by the time the All-Star break rolled around, Chivas had surrendered just two goals at home on the season (OK, this gets a little silly because when they play the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center – e.g. their home ground – Chivas counts as the home team only half the time).  No less significantly, a weird, early-August layoff from league play had them slowly gaining games in hand over their Western Conference rivals; and all of them – except the Houston Dynamo, who were tearing shit up around the same time – were stumbling. Continue reading

Chivas 3-0 LA: Two Kicks to the Moldering Corpse

Last night, for the first time in my time as a Major League Soccer (MLS) fan, I pulled for the Los Angeles Galaxy. I couldn’t help myself, not with them dragging desperately around the pitch like a three-legged dog. I pulled, especially, for Landon Donovan and Abel Xavier, who, together, seemed to be two of those three legs.

The fervent prayers of ten thousand well-wired saints, never mind my feeble pitying support, could not have saved the team the Galaxy fielded last night against a strong Chivas USA side. What life is left to pray for runs through Donovan, Xavier, Joe Cannon, and, arguably, what’s left of Kyle Martino’s after you account for his nagging injuries. No disrespect intended to the rest of the Galaxy team, but, player-for-player, they just don’t stack up right now.

The shortcomings are both most apparent and painful up top. Carlos Pavon looks like my dad could push him in a foot-race, while one-dimensional stands as the most polite insult one can direct at Alan Gordon; he’s 80% target-player and 0% open-field runner; the time Chris Klein tried to play the latter into a foot-race through the defense painfully illustrated Gordon’s limitations.

We were all in for an evening of mildly appalled viewing from the moment Chivas scored the first goal; that Razov scored the goal with his RIGHT FOOT only poured more salt into the wounds. With LA’s forward line so unequal to the job, the game seemed over and, the Galaxy, dead. Still, Donovan and Martino pushed bravely – if, in the case of the former – recklessly forward in a spirit that recalled a tortured doctor from a hospital drama, the man who recoils at the thought of losing a single patient. One could almost hear Donovan screaming, “NO! Live, damn you! LIVE!!” In my memory, though, the Galaxy never came meaningfully close to scoring and that’s in spite of getting into position: Xavier sailing a near-range shot almost implausibly high over the crossbar or Gordon flopping on his back trying to trap a high, through-ball with his foot come to mind there.

When, around the 85th minute, Chivas scored a second – this one on a well-taken shot by Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza – the entire affair turned a touch morbid. When Laurent Merlin scored off a sloppy clearance – a play that originated when still another Galaxy defender was caught dicking around with the ball too long – it all became essentially grotesque. That’s two hard kicks into the side of a helpless corpse. I tried to change the channel after the first, but it all happened so fast.

And to think, we’ll get to see this at least a few more times this season.