DC v. Chivas: What Stuck With Me

DC united 1 -1 CD Chivas de Guadalajara (Report)

All in all, a very interesting game imbued with a kind of “getting to know” you vibe; it’s hard to say whether that’s good or bad for DC’s future. The sure thing, though, is that this isn’t the score DC wanted in pocket for their upcoming visit to Chivas’ Jalisco stadium.

To begin, it’s clear to me that, man for man, Chivas is better than DC: by this I mean on the level of individual, technical skill all the way up and down the team, Chivas players possess better “skillz” - e.g. trapping, quick passing, playing the ball into and out of tight spaces. Against that, I wouldn’t suggest that DC is a whole, or even half step below; what they lose on an individual level, they recover tactically.

Speaking of tactics, one of the great mysteries of the game for me was Chivas’, for lack of a better word, impatience. Apart from a flatly magical spell smack in the middle of the first half, where they pushed the ball quickly around the turf and had DC chasing, Chivas spent much of the game hoofing long balls to semi-isolated forwards and midfielders. Such maneuvers served a purpose - it kept the ball in DC’s end and most of their players between the ball and the Chivas goal - but it also failed to produce much offense. Probably a tactic for the road, but it’s fair to question how well it served them (OK, scoreline says tolerably well, but...)

One last point: the Goats defend remarkably well and all over the field. It’s mostly the little things they did well: cutting off passing lanes, generally pressing and, most interesting of all, their players do a really good job of playing the opposition to their defensive help.

Oh, and Chivas’ goal? The finish wasn’t the prettiest, but the cross was lovely.

DC United
Unfortunate score aside, there was a fair amount to like in DC’s game. They played the ball quickly and well for the most part, retaining possession against dogged pressure from Chivas; that held, at least, except on the occasions they reached Chivas’ defensive third and for a twenty-minute spell just before they’re goal when it appeared they had run out of ideas. That’s to say, they found players in useful positions, but just couldn’t make that final, telling pass - except when they finally did. And, apart from the odd giveaway moving the ball out of the back, they defended well - a good sign for them.

Still, the slight hiccup in offensive flow did pose a problem and it hardly helped that Christian Gomez often had to go deep into DC’s back and middle to get the ball. DC did have their moments, most of them down the flanks through Joshua Gros, who made a decent opening or two, and Clyde Simms roving forward down the right. It may be discouraging that these maneuvers didn’t come off in the end, but setting them up is the requisite first step. The thing is, I can’t put my finger on what exactly kept DC from breaking through, but it hit them at the step before the finishing department; they just didn’t seem able to create much.

For all that, scoring the late goal must have come as a massive relief. And hats off to Fox Soccer Channel for getting a good close-up of Luciano Emilio’s sneaky little spin away from his defender.

DC Player Notes
Perkins - didn’t look all that bad, though I thought I saw him pull up every so often; he certainly wasn’t at fault for the goal.

Facundo Erpen - I think it’s probably by habit that I hold him responsible for many of the give-aways in the transition between DC’s defensive third and the middle of the park, but he looked to have had a good game.

(Was it?) Brian Carroll - unlucky on the deflection that led to the Chivas goal. UPDATE: Nope. DCenters tells me it was Bryan Namoff and they should know.

Clyde Simms - is interesting player to watch. For every time he goofs up, there are two instances where he looks solid and one in which he looks very sure. I think I like him.

Ben Olsen - is great heart-and-soul player, the kind of guy that makes a team go.

Luciano Emilio - continues to build a reputation. He was good nearly all night, whether it was coming back to receive the ball and seeing that, against close attention, DC kept possession. But the artful slip from his defender was a natural highlight. Hard not to dub him DC’s man of the match, but....

...I’d give a nod to Bobby Boswell, who looked pretty poised in the back, or Joshua Gros, who, by my foggy recollection (it was late and the Pabst flowing), posed the biggest threat to Chivas’ generally firm defense. (NOTE: that long-haired dude they kept showing - don’t know his name - was their only liability.)

There’s no use pretending this wasn’t the ideal result. I don’t even think this reaches “moral victory” territory. A win was wanted, maybe even needed. DC’s undoing came with being just a half-step off heading into the attacking third.


matt y said...

really good game analysis...the best that I've seen....pretty much my thoughts exactly.

i was telling my father in law (a long time Chivas and Atlas fan) that the big difference between the two teams is that all Chivas have good/great technical ability and field vision.
We have 3-4 players that are average in that area. Thus...our attacks break up easier..we don't send as many penetrating, pinpoint passes.

Chivas are always dangerous no matter who has the ball...we aren't...and rely on a few guys to "hurt" the opposition.

Great result...really. Chivas are impressive and are among the best in the western hemisphere...a tie isn't a bad result (well...it is if our goal is to advance of course).

i'm not giving up...if we can score the first goal in Esadio jalisco...i fully expect chivas to lose their heads....

my father in law was impressed by the way....especially when i told him the total payroll of DC united compared to Chivas...

The Manly Ferry said...

Glad you liked the armchair barking. Good word on your father-in-law, too; DC played a decent game and, if things break just right, they could leave Mexico with the upset of the decade. It will be a hell of a thing though. Ought to be a cagey affair, in any case, and for the reason you mentioned (that first goal could be a big thing).