By: Mario M. Melara
Carson CA — Chivas USA are now losers of six straight games, after a disappointing 2-1 loss to FC Dallas at the Home Depot Center. This is not the result that head coach Martin Vasquez was hoping for, especially after working so hard with the club in training during the much needed stoppage to the MLS schedule, due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is without question that the increasing laundry list of problems facing Chivas USA continues to grow, which now includes playing without the talent and creativity of attacking midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who recently was transferred to Anderlecht, a First Division team in Belgium. Coupled with the fact of not having defender Jonathan Bornstein for this match, who was playing for U.S. Men’s National Team in a crucial match against Ghana at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, many wondered how Chivas USA would come out against FC Dallas.
From the opening whistle of the match, Chivas USA immediately showed what they had been planning in practice, emphasizing on keeping a collective defense shape, staying organized, and compact. However, the passing and communication was sloppy in the middle, and FC Dallas quickly jumped on the attack and created their first scoring chance in the 6th minute when Martin Chavez barely missed the net with his shot from outside the box, which went wide right.
FC Dallas managed to control much of the early possession of the game, as Chivas USA sought to figure out a way to break through the FC Dallas defense. I immediately thought of Sacha Klejstan and how valuable he was as a midfielder for Chivas USA, a player who demanded the ball, controlled the tempo, was the catalyst that shifted the team from defense to offense, and made the key passes to create great scoring opportunities. At this point, all that Chivas USA could muster up for offense was a long distance shot from Justin Braun in the 21st minute.
The best scoring opportunity of the early first half came from FC Dallas striker Atiba Harris in the 23rd minute when he sent a thunderbolt of shot on goal, but was parried away by Chivas USA goalkeeper Zack Thornton. However, FC Dallas’s persistence paid off, as near the end of halftime, a corner kick by David Ferriera somehow found its way into the back of the net, which after review was actually deflected off Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic. It just seemed like Chivas USA could just not get a break, and when things are not going your way, the ball seems to always bounce in favor of the other team.
The second half saw a more aggressive and determined Chivas USA team. The offense came alive in the 53rd minute when Jesus Padilla nearly tied the game, striking a shot on goal from point blank range, only to be saved by FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Chivas USA continued on the attack, led surprisingly enough by Salvadorian international Osael Romero, whose creatively in the midfield and streaking runs on the wide side of pitch changed the complexion of the game. Chivas USA founds its equalizer in the 58th minute when a cross into the box by Jesus Padilla found the head of Osael Romero, who although is only 5’6, out jumped FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, and headed the ball into the back of the net.
The celebration didn’t last long as a just one minute later, FC Dallas midfielder Martin Chavez earned a penalty shot for his team after being shoved down by Ante Jazic in the box. Calmly and coolly, FC Dallas striker David Ferriera walked up to the penalty spot and blasted a shot past Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton.
Chivas USA continued to have trouble again breaking down the FC Dallas defense, and realizing that the speed up front of striker Maykel Galindo was not providing many benefits or scoring opportunities, coach Martin Vasquez decide to replace him with Ben Zamanski in the 68th minute. Chivas USA managed only a couple of more scoring chances the rest of the match, the best in the 76th minute by Osael Romero, who send a laser of shot from 35 yards, but saved by goalkeeper Hartman.
The final two subs for Chivas USA, Maicon Santos in the 76th minute for Jesus Padilla, and Chukwudi Chijindu in the 84th minute for Osael Romero, brought nothing to the match. The creativity was gone, the communication and passing in the midfield lost, and without a strong striker up top, Chivas USA saw themselves lose once again.
It’s now back to the drawing board for Chivas USA coach Martin Vasquez. But one thing is for certain, you can’t draw up talent. It is nearly impossible to replace a player like Sacha Kljestan. His creativity and control of the midfield is going to be a hard thing for this team to recapture, especially given the drop off of talent.
On a bright side, this match against FC Dallas was coming out party for Osael Romero. He showed the skills and talent that Martin Vasquez hoped he would display in MLS. Now would be a great time to pair him with someone else who has great ball control to exploit the flanks and create great scoring chances by driving crosses into the box.
Chivas USA return to action on Tuesday, June 29th, against Austin Aztex FC, in a third-round match of the U.S. Open Cup.