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)

Overview
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

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Chivas USA 1 – 1 Chicago Fire: 12th Man’s Game

Ah, the sound of crunching tackles…it’s like hearing the rumble of the post-season echoing from the next valley over. Both Chivas and Chicago brought playoff intensity to the late Saturday game, turning in a hard-fought thriller in which either side could have taken the points. In the end, though, splitting them seemed fair enough – even if that’s most definitely less than Chicago, especially, needed.

Unfortunately, referee Tim Weyland’s competence didn’t match the two teams’ passion. By midway through the first half, both teams had lost confidence in Weyland’s management of the game: Chivas after he bit on the “foul” on Blanco that led to Chicago’s goal, and Chicago after Blanco actually was rather unceremoniously hacked down; all that should teach Cuauhtemoc to cry foul, but I’m not holding my breath. In Weyland’s defense, though, he got the PK call correct that allowed Chivas to equalize…the jury in my head, however, wound up hung on Chicago’s late penalty.

On Chivas’ side of the ball, there has to be concern about the collective fatigue hitting the side of late. Strongly as they started – and they looked smoother than warm satin sheets smeared in butter over the first ten minutes – the Fire worked them out by midway through the second half. It did take the crossbar to stop Chivas on two separate occasions, which meant their offense still fired well enough, but every downfield foray looked from the 25th minute forward looked uncomfortable as a run through a raspberry patch. Overall, though, this makes two games featuring an apparent slip from sharpness – that timing is about as bad as it gets, especially with DC making like a razor.

As for Chicago, one can only pity them. This squad plays like the “big brothers” of the puling squad of pre-teens that started the season in Fire jerseys; consecutive 3-0 losses are surely a thing of the past. Unfortunately, these have been replaced with an endless series of draws. Their only solace comes from seeing Columbus choke…again. But winning the race feels like a whole lot less of an accomplishment when all the other runners keep tripping.

In the end, Weyland was too involved. At the same time, equal opportunity incompetence can make for a better game every so often. I wouldn’t go quite that far this time around, but Weyland certainly didn’t ruin this late-season dog-fight.

Other notes:

– How cool is Alex Zotinca? The way he riled Blanco with a subtle shove to the back, drawing the Mexican a card while totally escaping punishment himself? Priceless. Yes, yes, we’re supposed to deplore gamesmanship, but there’s nothing like seeing a hound pull one over on the fox.

– That Preki kid is wound tight. I thought he was going to attack the sideline reporter during “coach’s corner.”