Sunday, November 4, 2007

Frustrating farewell

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.


Anonymous said...

The beauty about this is that 10 years from now history will be interpreted as:

Galaxy made the SuperLiga finals, Chivas was knocked out of the MLS Cup playoffs in the first round.

I love history.

East River said...

Can't disagree with any of those points AC. You need a goal and to win and you use a 4-5-1? The second half they need 3 forwards. Maybe instead taking Nunez out have him Galindo and Merlin all in together. Bornstein should have been allowed to get forward a bit more or at least play winger. There is not need to keep Bornstein at defender if you have the necessary defenders on the roster, the man was drafted as a midfielder/forward allow him to play those positions.

East River said...

By the way who in Mexico play American football? I'm watch the Pumas vs Veracuz match on Univision right now and there are clearly visible gridiron football lines on the field. So who is playing American football down there? AC or LB or anyone else please school me.

El Güero said...

There's an American Football league in Mexico. They show games on ESPN Deportes.

UNAM has a team, as does Tec de Monterrey.

Here's a story (in Spanish) from the game yesterday at UNAM's stadium.

East River said...

Thanks sir! I think I read profiles years ago of Mexican players in NFL Europa who had played who had won Mexico's college national title or something like that. I don't have ESPN Deportes so I'm pretty in the dark with in comes to Latin sports leagues beyond MFL. If Mexican clubs can keep their field looking that good and also take up the football lines MLS has no excuse for not doing the same.

blahblah said...

I think you nailed it. It was pretty easy for KC to knock down the Chivas attacks throughout. KC had Chivas figured out from the get go. I think they did start breaking KC down right before halftime but as soon as they came back, it was over. Also, I don't know if Sacha just tuned out all game or if he was being heavily marked?

El Güero said...

Pumas' pitch almost always looks good.

Sometimes at the Estadio Tecnologico in Monterrey it looks pretty bad after the football games.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! The truth hurts.

A.C. said...

First anon - I'm not actually sure that the Galaxy making the finals will be seen as that great of an accomplishment. Winning the trophy would have, though.

I told fellow scribes at the time - if Chivas USA goes out in the first round of the MLS playoffs and the Galaxy win the SuperLiga, history will remember the Galaxy's as the better year. But it didn't happen that way for the Galaxy. They are trophyless this season.