By John Santos, Chiv
6-2. That was the final score at last night’s match as Chivas
USA succumbed to the Seattle Sounders. What can one say after
such a loss? Is it the coach’s fault? Are the players not playing up to their
potential? Or is it the universe just playing a cruel joke on everyone and
making it harder for the Goats to get anything done on the field? In this
examiners opinion, it’s a combination of all three.
Week in and week out the starting lineups keep changing. Where is the
consistency? Where is the coach instilling confidence in a player by trusting
him with the duty of starting the match on a constant basis? Was it nice to see
Casey Townsend and Tristan Bowen getting the rare start tonight? Sure. As a
young prospects, they're hungry for an opportunity to show what they are capable
of. But for a player who is still raw, and another who only just recently got
back from a loan, is it wise to have them go nearly the full 90 against someone
like the Seattle Sounders? They’ll give it their all and get a good shot or two
near goal, but will it beenough?
At the same time though, Juan Pablo Angel has shown that he’s not the player
he used to be. 90 minutes are almost impossible for him now. Still, he shown
that as a super-sub, he’s still got something left in the tank. How much
though? Just enough for a quick 5 minute burst? Or maybe enough for 25
minutes? Certainly an offensive jolt at the 65th minute when the Goats were
down only 3-2 (following an impressive goal from midfielder Miller Bolaños)
could have helped turn the tide. While it wouldn’t have helped on the defensive
side of things (more on that in a minute) brining in J.P.A. in could have change
the teams’ goal scoring woes.
The defense has been crap. Sorry for the lack of a better term, but that’s
how this examiner feels. From wins over Portland, to draws with San Jose, and losses against the neighbors, the defense has yet
to instill any kind of confidence. Sure, it has been shuffled more times than a
deck of cards. But nearly every combination of defenders has been disastrous
(with Dan Kennedy in his usual “bail out” roll). Tonight was no different.
Neither Dan Califf nor Raushawn McKenzie (who aren’t spring chickens themselves
either) played in the contest, but replacements Bobby Burling and John Valencia
were up to the task of letting the other teams’ offense run all over them.
Veterans of the backline like James Riley and Ante Jazic fared no better playing
some of their worst Soccer in as Roji-Blancos (with the latter
scoring an own goal to ice the match at 6-2). Seattle didn’t simply beat them;
they publicly undressed the defense, exposing their many faults. The obvious
being that Dan Kennedy is not Superman. Try all he can, he cannot keep the team
in contention for a result all by himself. Allowing 6 goals in a match (even if
most of them aren’t your fault) certainly won’t look good in the eye of a
National team coach looking for new prospects in the player pool.
So in the end, what do we have? Good players? Check. Devoted supporters?
Check. A good team? Not by a long shot. The supporters have hit their
breaking point for the year. It seems the players have too if you believe the
scuttlebutt from the little birdies.
The Goats are a pretty fortunate team off the field. With a General Manager
that has tried to change things up (albeit with older players) to a schedule
that currently sees them with 4 matches in hand (that would translate to 12
points) the team is in a good position to make the post season. Unfortunately
for them, they would have to win those 4 matches (2 in a row is the max streak
they’ve managed to put together all season). With everyone looking onto the 5th
and final playoff spot held by Vancouver, FC Dallas has now managed to surge
leaving the Goats behind in 7th place. The breaks for the Goats have been there
for a better season. Yet they've failed to capitalize each and every time all
And after the events last night, no positive can undo the sheer embarrassment
of a 6-2 beating.
The farthest this examiner had ever traveled in covering/supporting the Goats
was Salt Lake City. That particular trip took 12 hours. Not to mention the
loss of one hour due to entering the Mountain Standard Time zone. While one
didn’t have to cross a time zone to get to Portland, the extra 5 hours and a bad case of the
runs certainly made the trip feel longer than it should have. Granted, the
bridges, mountain ranges, plains, rivers and lakes were a wonder for the eye to
The Goats came into this past Saturday’s match with two straight wins over
the Portland Timbers. One away in Portland earlier this year, and the
other a couple of weeks ago at the Home Depot Center. The Timbers had lost 4 in
a row, and were hoping to change their fortunes. In their only visit to
JELD-WEN Field last year, the Goats had come away on the opposite end of a 1-0
Arriving in Portland the day before the match allowed the traveling
supporters from the Black Army to get to know their surroundings. With a
light-rail station across the street that lead straight to the stadium, we were
off to explore. All in all, a nice city. One that seems knowledgeable in
regards to its local MLS team based on the amount of team gear one can
purchase almost anywhere, and fans eager to talk about the team/engage in
friendly banter. Of course there will be a jerk every now and then no matter
how well things go. But we can’t judge an entire fanbase on the sayings of one
person. Still, the expedition into the city gave us in the group an idea of
what to expect the following day.
Riding the train from the Red Lion Inn, the Black Army chanted the ride away
to the surprise of many Timbers supporters on board.
“This is the loudest I’ve heard away supporters on the train ever”,
said a passenger wrapped in a Timbers Army scarf.
And so the chanting continued right up to 10th street and Morrison, where
everyone got off and marched to the stadium. Going right past the Timbers Army
entrance made for an entertaining, if not explicative laden conclusion to the
As for the match itself, this examiner thought back to a question asked on
the trip up to Portland: “What are your predictions for the match?”
“It’s going to be a 1-0 undeserved win for Chivas USA”.
By the time the 1st half was over Portland should have been up at least 4 or
5 to nothing. Many failed offside’s traps and superior passing from the
opposition could very well have done the Goats in. But a nice save here and
there along with plain bad luck up top for the home team meant everything was
all square going into the half at 0-0.
The start of the 2nd half was more of the same. While the traveling Goats
supporters section sang loud, and often, The Timbers were having as bad of a day
as possible. And just when it seemed that Portland might break through, Dan
Califf connected with header off a Ben Zemanski free kick to put the Goats up
1-0. Pandemonium ensued in section 223 of Jeld-Wen Field. How long the lead
would last was anyone’s guess. But for now the flags waved, hands were clapped
and vocal cord limits were put to the test.
Unable to see the match clock from our seats, many were left wondering
exactly when the match would end. Emotions can get riled up more than normal
when one has no idea how much time as passed, or how much time is left.
This examiner stood by his prediction of an undeserved win as the players
applauded the traveling contingent of supporters. At no point in this match
should the Goats have had a lead. One almost felt sorry for the Timbers and
their fans. So many losses lately and so many chances to win on the night. The
wrong team won that night. Regardless of this examiners personal feelings, the
feeling of joy, and relief (more so relief rather than joy) spread about our
section as our team had gotten 3 vital points on the road.
With the match in the rearview mirror, it was time to head back home the
following morning. Departing at 11am, we wouldn’t arrive back at our original
point of origin until 5am the day after. It was a long grueling trip that saw
us pass dormant volcanos, towns named after medicinal drugs, no sales tax, and
farm fields that went on forever. A trip that won’t be forgotten anytime
With that said, the Goats now prepare for the 3rd and final encounter against
their neighbors this season. Things are even at the moment with each team winning one match a piece. But goal differential currently favors the other
team. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday August 12th at 8pm.