Chivas USA's loss in the playoff series was tough for the team to take.
A writer at the game last night asked me, "What could the team have done differently?"
It's easy to second-guess now, so I will, thanks.
1. Ditch the 4-5-1. Chivas USA could have come out with more confidence against Kansas City in the first road game. They are a classic 4-4-2 team, and they should have stuck with that.
2. Move Johnny Bornstein to forward. Bob Bradley did this to great effect in 2006, including times when Ante Razov was injured, but Preki didn't go for it. I'm not sure why. Bornstein scores goals, and he's comfortable working with his starting teammates, so there's more cohesion than bringing in a little-used bench forward. Plus, Orlando Perez covers the left back spot very effectively. He's not as fast going forward, but defensively very solid.
3. Sub in Laurent Merlin. I asked Preki why Hamilton got the nod instead and he said Hamilton had been training better. Training is a different animal, though, and Merlin has proven his coolness and ability to contribute in actual games. Hamilton has seen very few match minutes, and contributed nothing in them. I don't blame the youngster, but he was obviously nervous last night. Nothing dangerous came from Hamilton in the game - a late game sub should be a crucial threat.
4. Chivas USA was on fire late in the game, pressuring the Kansas City goal. John Cunliffe's header off the crossbar was the closest the team came all game. Yet the team lacked that urgency when the game opened. Without losing their heads or the lead, a more sustained attack mentality from the start of the match would have been useful. Instead, Chivas USA seemed surprised that KC was so defensive, which robbed Chivas USA of the space needed for their usual go-to strategy of quick counterattacks. Bottom line, if a team is bunkering, bomb the crap out of that bunker.
5. Don't count on calls. The handball on Jack Jewsbury was a credible call that was missed, but other calls went in favor of the home team. Chivas USA needed to maintain focus and score on their own, not argue calls or retaliate.