Chivas USA lose to Columbus Crew 3-0
By Simon Allen
There were stark differences between the Los Angeles Galaxy vs Chicago Fire match on March 3rd and the Chivas USA vs Columbus Crew match on March 4th. You can read about the LA match here. While others will knock the franchise on its dismal tickets sales on opening night. The small group of Chivas Faithful were out at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Word around the stadium was that Coach Chelis wanted Chivas USA to get the ball back within 8 seconds after they lost possession and play high pressure soccer throughout the match. That plan really didn't pan out.
Chivas starting with 3-5-2 formation soon reverted to a 4-4-2 around the 20th min as Frenchman, Laurent Courtois seemed to be playing a little lower on the pitch causing Chivas to play a bit too cautiously.
66 degrees, no humidity and The Home Depot Center had perfect soccer weather. Within the first minute Goalie and Captain Dan Kennedy was tested which was a sign of things to come and as the previous season, Frederico Higuain came out from the whistle as the talisman of the Crew.
The highlight for Chivas USA was Julio Morales. On loan from Chivas Guadalajara, Morales wasn't on the roster the night before but in the 9th minute started a promising attack which was promptly thwarted by the Crew Defense. Morales only reward was receiving a yellow card from ref Chris Penso for his troubles. It was a promising sign as throughout the match, Morales did cause Columbus' defense a spot of bother.
But it was the Crew that had the most chances starting in the 12th minute. Newly acquired Dominic Oduro ran past Courtois a bit too easily and took a decent shot that, fortunately for Chivas, went high.
Higuain, Jairo Arietta and Oduro combined well in the 20th minute only for Kennedy to handle the shot nicely. Chivas back line looked a step off but the shot didn't trouble their goalie. All three of the Crew players were key in the dismantling of Chivas USA.
At the 16th minute Higuain gave the ball away and Chivas strung some crosses that looked like that midfield were pretty knowledgeable of each others space and timing. But Arietta was given space by Chivas and the Costa Rican took a shot which went wide in the 22 minute. His best chance was at the 52 min mark where he kicked the ball wide a few yards away from goal. Even though the end result wasn't to be expected, Arietta, for the most part had command of his area.
The best chance for Chivas USA came in at the 25 minute mark when Danny O' Rourke gave the ball away to Morales who took the ball toward goalie, Andy Gruenebaum. Morales stuck the the ball cleanly only to have Gruenebaum save it giving Chivas a corner which they promptly squandered.
In the 28th minute Giovani Casillas threaded the ball through the Crew defense to the feet of Morales who ran towards goal only to be stopped by The Crew goalie. The fans in attendance starting screaming for what looked like a foul on Morales but the ref rightly waved “no” to no surprise of the the Chivas Bench who had made no fuss over the non-call.
Chivas USA forward Tristan Bowen's first real attempt at goal came in the 40th minute. A free kick cross was sent away from the area where it was retrieved by Bowen. Given enough time to turn and take a shot which, the young forward did so only to see his shot roll a few inches wide. Scoreless at the half the crowd at HDC felt that perhaps both teams needed to shake the rust off some more before they would see any goals.
During the second half, both teams came out running faster and looking stronger. Five minutes later, Chivas attacked the Crew causing some confusion for their defense. Gruenebaum saved the ball and immediately started the counter attack. Higuain got the pass and took the shot 23 yards away. The ball caromed off the goalpost into the net and the score was 1-0 to the visitors.
With the defense not holding strong Coach Chelis replaced Courtois with Bobby Burling around the 56 minute mark. Courtois had been playing more of a defensive role rather than a mid so subbing in Burling assured the rest of the team that the formation was 4-4-2 moving forward.
But within the hour mark Coach Chelis was visibly annoyed at the team even though the movement by The Goats was slightly more fluid than that of the first half. For the next 10 minutes the game got choppy with multiple fouls causing the match to stop. This didn't help either team until the 71st minute when Juan Agudelo, who was subbed in for Julio Morales, got on the end of a cross only to miss the attempt. Chivas USA continued to push on the right side of the pitch attempting to cross the ball to any Chivas players available. It was on that side that Chivas USA looked a lot stronger than usual.
Marion de Luna got a header off a cross which went high in the 75th minute and for a moment the Crew looked like there were changes to be made to counter the good 10 minutes of Chivas' play. Ryan Finely came in for Arietta and Tony Tchani for Higuain. Higuain had become a lightning rod for errant kicks to the shins and looked like he didn't appreciate being subbed out while walking off the pitch.
In the 85th minute Chivas USA went on an all out attack. Miller Bolanos, who had come in for Casillas used the right side well, but unfortunately his crosses were either stopped before they happened or didn't reach a teammates head. HDC was quiet when in the 86th minute, a corner by Eddie Gaven was right footed by defender, Josh Williams for a goal that hushed the crowd even more. Marked by Mario de Luna, Williams goal caused some of the Chivas faithful to head for the exits early.
However Chivas USA's heads didn't go down and a counter in the 88th minute showed Coach Chelis that at least their spirits weren't dampened. Chivas pushed forward even till the dying minutes of the game. However, a minute before the final whistle, Chivas won a free kick which was crossed into the area. However, the Crew cleared, through Dominic Oduro, who took the ball up field, and stepped around Kennedy to score for the Crew. At 3-0, Dominic Oduro got his first goal in a Crew jersey while Chivas USA fans wondered if this match was a sign of things to come. 2012 deju vu?
Chivas USA's next match is against FC Dallas at the Home Depot Center.