What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Some days, nothing goes right.
You know the days: You try everything you normally would, but when you make breakfast, you burn the toast, spill the orange juice,and forget to turn the stovetop off.
That was a bit like last night. Despite our feverish pace, some things just didn't go quite right. Dan Kennedy stopped several shots from Fabian Espindola — shots that, any other day, would have seen him wheeling around the stadium in celebration as he reached a new record. We saw a renewed belief from Rauwshan McKenzie, who never looked so good when he played with us. We saw 50-50 calls go against us time and time again.
But we kept fighting. From 0 to 90, we pushed on Chivas with as hard an effort as we could. Still but three matches into the season, we lacked a bit of sharpness — as every team has — and a bit of confidence in our ability to win with our normal play. When things got rough and we conceded a goal, we threw everything we had forward, but it just wasn't enough. Defending, if it were from our players, that we would have called heroic really did seal it.
But whatever the circumstances, a 1-0 loss to Chivas was always going to hurt. We came out of the match significantly less hurt than our last home match against the side, though, and perhaps there's something there worth remembering. We kept all of our players in one piece, even if their tempers were a little fiery at times.
Oh, the tempers. I will not spend the whole of my post harping on the referee's performance with individual decisions, as it hardly makes a difference now, but I will note two things.
1. The referee lacked any meaningful control of the match. He let tempers flare repeatedly, and I was a bit surprised we didn't see handbags at any time during the match. I did see a player or two raise their hands to the faces of ours, for which they were given yellow cards. In another league, they'd have been off and received a three-match ban.
2. Chris Schuler's yellow was utterly and wholly unjustified. Why he was handed a card for his hard but clean tackle, I don't really know: He won the ball cleanly, keeping his feet down the whole time. When that whistle blew and a yellow card appeared, I just shook my head. (Or screamed, or slumped to the ground, or something like that. I don't remember. That was for effect.)
I've seen since the match some people hugely upset with the side. This, I don't quite get. We didn't lose because we didn't work, we didn't lose because we don't have the right mindset or technical ability. I've seen people blaming individual players, and I do think some people need to take a step back. It wasn't the referee, it wasn't our players, it wasn't our work rate: It just wasn't our night. In the future, we can and will do better. But this isn't the end of the world. Chivas isn't the worst team in the league by a long shot, and they look much improved from last season.
Just take a step back. It's not the end of the season, and it's a point to move forward from.
A few tactical notes, but I'll save most of my tactical thinking for tomorrow.
1. Nick Rimando's distribution was very good. In fact, he completed every pass he attempted. All 32 of them. That's impressive.
2. The two substitutions at the half seemed to largely work, injecting a bit more strength into the side, but I'd have removed Luis Gil over Sebastian Velasquez, if just from a statistical perspective. Luis failed a bit to inject himself into play, which sometimes happens with young players. Still, there's a reason I'm not a manager, so that's just my half-baked opinion.
3. Chivas sat fairly deep in the second half after spending most of the first half in a high-pressing game. Realizing, I think, that his players were going to tire at that rate, Robin Fraser pulled them back a little bit, and we saw seven or eight men behind the ball at all times. It was a smart decision tactically, and it worked well to stifle our creativity.
Right, that's all for now. Tomorrow, I'll focus on tactics and stats.