Know Your Enemy: Chivas USA
FC Dallas returns home this weekend for a matchup against Western Conference rival Chivas USA in a battle of two teams at the top of the conference standings.
First-year head coach Wilmer Cabrera has his team off to a decent 1-0-1 start. Chivas is coming off a 1-1 draw in week two against Vancouver in which the Goats were down a man for nearly the entire match thanks to a 13th minute red card to midfielder Agustin Pelletieri.
FC Dallas has struggled against Chivas over the last couple years. Last season the two clubs had a split of the season series. FCD lost the first match against Chivas, 3-1, in Los Angeles, but responded with a 0-0 draw in Frisco and a 3-1 win in the third and final match of the series in California.
Chivas is currently dealing with a couple injuries at the moment. Keeper Tim Melia and second-year midfielder Carlos Alvarez are both listed as out for this weekend’s match.
Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste is also a question mark for Saturday’s game.
WATCH: Toyota Keys to the Match
Final Year as Chivas USA
Before the start of the 2014 season, Major League Soccer announced that the league had purchased Chivas from original owner Jorge Vergara. MLS stated that they would be looking for new owners to keep the team in the LA market going forward. That also means that this is the final season to see Chivas USA play in MLS before the team is rebranded under new ownership.
Oswaldo Minda vs Mauro Diaz - Last week, FCD fans saw what should be the norm this season, teams putting a body on Diaz nearly every time he touched the ball. Expect the same this weekend as Minda should be dealing with Diaz in the center of the field. Last week Minda committed four fouls in the draw to Vancouver.
Mauro Rosales vs Jair Benitez - One guy that can be a massive difference maker for Chivas is Rosales. He’s currently leading the league in assists. Benitez will have the task of dealing with him on the flanks this weekend. Thankfully for Benitez, Rosales doesn’t have any blistering speed to cause him issuesm, but if he allows space for Rosales to create chances, the Goats could have an easy time of putting balls in on goal.
Key Player for Chivas USA
Erick Torres – While Rosales is key to getting the attack going, it is Torres who will typically be finishing off those chances. The Guadalajara loanee has proven in his short MLS stay so far to be a major threat around goal. He can score if you give him space and he can also put away a rounded shot.
Cabrera has used a 4-4-2 formation this season that tends to value play from the flanks with gritty defensive play in the center of the park.
Goalkeeper: Dan Kennedy; RB: Eric Avila; CB: Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Burling; LB: Tony Lochhead; RM: Mauro Rosales; CM: Oswaldo Minda, Dani Fragoso; LM: Leandro Barrera; FW: Erick Torres, Tommy McNamara.
Keys to three points
There are still plenty of question marks surrounding this version of Chivas USA. Are they for real based on what we have seen after two games? Can they defend for 90 minutes on the road? Has Cabrera installed a new attitude in this group? And lastly, do they have the depth to really compete?
Some of those questions will have answers this weekend in Chivas’ first road match of the season. FC Dallas hopes to remain unbeaten on the year and has a good chance to do so against this team.
FCD will need to limit Rosales’ touches on the ball and find ways to keep the center of the midfield their own. Chivas isn’t an accurate team in the passing game, so if FCD can clog up the passing lanes in the midfield it will disrupt any kind of flow the Goats may have in this game.
In order to win this game, FCD has to insert their style of play on Chivas from the start. Spreading the field, playing with a more attacking-minded style of play (like FCD fans saw against Montreal in the season opener) and putting constant pressure on this Chivas USA defense will open up doors for Blas Perez and company to score.