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Preview: Chivas USA vs Seattle Sounders

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Carson, CA - April 6, 2014: Marcelo Sarvas (#8) of the Los Angeles Galaxy dives in front of Leandro Barrera (#11) of Chivas USA in order to block shot on goal (Photo: Shaun Clark - Football.com).
Carson, CA - April 6, 2014: Marcelo Sarvas (#8) of the Los Angeles Galaxy dives in front of Leandro Barrera (#11) of Chivas USA in order to block shot on goal (Photo: Shaun Clark - Football.com).

After escaping the Portland Timbers with a 1-1 draw, giving them a point, Chivas USA (1-2-3) will return home looking to break their five-game winless streak against the resurgent Seattle Sounders (3-2-1). Despite having a better start than last season, Chivas USA looks like a team that struggles to assemble some sort of coherent attack. Despite featuring one of the leading scorers in the league, Erick Torres (5 goals in 6 games), Chivas USA hope to give their hungry young forward more ambitious opportunities at the net.

The Seattle Sounders on the other hand aren’t too worried about finding ways to expose the Chivas USA backline with the speedy Obefemi Martins, the technical Argentine Marco Pappa, the tall Kenny Cooper, and the league’s leading scorer Clint Dempsey (six goals in 4 matches) to give the team fits. Coming off a comeback victory against Western Conference leaders FC Dallas, the Sounders look more than determined to take three points away from the Goats on the road.

Is Pelletieri Spanish for “Hacking”?

The Goats’ only solid piece in the backline has been their captain Carlos Bocanegra. With Eriq Zavaleta unable to play since the Sounders are his parent club that loaned him to Chivas USA, the Goats will call on Bobby Burling to partner with Bocanegra. While Andrew Jean-Baptiste is starting get comfortable at leftback, Chivas USA cannot disguise the fact their backline is as fragile and disorganized as they come. It doesn’t help that Agustin Pelletieri’s sole tactic as the gatekeeper for the defense has been hacking down the best players and handing out free-kicks like a fire sale. Although he was brought on the team to give the midfielders breathing space to operate the offense, he’s been somewhat of a bull brought inside a china shop.

A Happy Reunion?

One of the big storylines of the match will be Mauro Rosales facing his old club for the first time. Ever since he arrived in Los Angeles, Rosales has done the same thing that he did back in the Emerald City; bring the ball up from the right wing and deliver it into the box. It’s possible that Rosales will put on a better than usual performance out of sheer motivation of having to play against his former club. Rumors of poor locker room chemistry in his final season at Seattle might be an incentive for Rosales to play with more bronca.

How Do You Spell Doom? A-C-L

What does Thomas McNamara have in common with AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, FC Barcelona’s Victor Valdes, Southhampton’s Jay Rodriguez, and Arsenal’s Theo Walcott?

Missing out on the World Cup?

Close, but McNamara was nowhere near touching a spot on the US Men’s national team. He, alongside the list of the top players in Europe, are suffering an ACL tear and will be out indefinitely for the season. It’s possible that the Ecuadorian Oswaldo Minda or the 18-year-old Marco Delgado will be starting in his place. With a change in the midfield, a major issue with the Chivas USA offense still lingers…

Misplaced Pieces

 If there’s a way to describe the Chivas USA attack, it’s like a broken clock that forcefully repaired with some touches of tape and superglue. It somehow works for a short period before coming apart. Whenever the midfield manage to feed the ball to Torres in the box, they look like the forcefully assembled clock. It’s not pretty, but if it works for a moment then it will suffice. The midfield arrangement of Pelletieri, Delgado, Rosales, Carlos Alvarez and Leandro Barrera doesn’t seem to work well together nor do they sync with Torres. Rosales likes to play wide as does Barrera. Alvarez and Delgado look lost most of times and tend to defer to Rosales too much. Torres can’t receive the long ball due to lack of height and physicality, much to the chagrin of Rosales, and looks strong only in one-on-one situations. There’s just so much dysfunction in the midfield and most of it stems from differing styles of play or lack of. If Torres is the focus of their offense, the team needs to figure out how to string passes up the middle rather than relying on Rosales to send in a cross too many.

Captain America

Clint Dempsey is having a solid season and is giving US National Team fans a lot of hope leading up to the World Cup. With team’s poor season behind him, Dempsey seemingly took the step forward and has taken on the leadership role for the team. While Brad Evans is still considered the team captain, Evans’ injury has given “Deuce” the role of pulling the team together. Their comeback victory against FC Dallas was a demonstration of that. It’s easy to look at Dempsey’s six goals and believe he is the best player on the team, but a close look at his decision-making and footwork solidifies the argument of why he’s a crucial player for the Sounders. It doesn’t hurt that he knows how to utilize his teammates, with Obafemi Martins drawing away markers to free up space for the U.S. international.

I Would Gotten Away With It Too If It Weren’t For This Yedlin Kid

Please excuse my poor Scooby Doo pun. A part of me wanted to talk about Sounders’ right back DeAndre Yedlin just so I can title this pun. But he will serve as an X-factor for this match. The Goats will rely on Rosales to bring the ball to the box and it’s up to the speedy Seattle-raised product to mark him well. Coming off a poor performance against Dallas, Yedlin is surely hungry to bounce back. Yedlin has the speed and athleticism to bother Rosales, but his decision-making will be the main factor. If Yedlin manages to cut into Rosales’ nerve, he practically has shut down the Goats’ attack.

The Anteater’s Pride

UC Irvine-alum and Sounders’ captain Brad Evans has healed from his injury and will be looking to make a return to the pitch in this Saturday’s match. He’s likely to start, but not play the whole 90 minutes. The Sounders looked disorganized ever since his absence, but still managed to get some points. With Evans back, the boys from Emerald City will have that vocal leader on the pitch who can bring order back in the team.

Prediction

This matchup can only mean another embarrassing home loss for the Goats. Not only does the Seattle Sounders have more talent, they also look more organized than Chivas USA have ever been for the past two years (maybe even three). That isn’t to say how organized the Sounders are, it’s only pointing out how fragile the Goats have looked. A loss for Chivas USA will surely end the exhaustive discussion of how much the club has improved under Wilmer Cabrera.

Chivas USA 0 – Sounders 2