CHESTER, PA- JUNE 25: Veljko Paunovic #16 of the Philadelphia Union and Paulo Nagamura #5 of Chivas USA head the ball at PPL Park on June 25, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Union won 3-2. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Alicia Ratterree of The Goat Parade, SB Nation's Chivas USA blog, and I exchanged three questions a piece ahead of tomorrow night's Union-CUSA match at PPL Park. Read my responses to Alicia questions by heading to The Goat Parade.
tBG: What's gotten into Juan Pablo Angel? Did a "cross"-city move actually rejuvenate his career, or is there another explanation - tactically, perhaps - for his great form?
TGP: I think Angel's recent resurgence is due to a couple of factors. While he was supported by Galaxy fans for most of his tenure with that club, I think the pressure to perform was pretty high, and as he went game after game without scoring it hurt his confidence more and more. At the same time, there are considerable differences between the personnel and tactics of Chivas USA and the Galaxy. The Galaxy have not had a lot of goals scored by forwards this season, but when Landon Donovan is scoring routinely from the midfield and David Beckham is setting up goals for all positions, it's not such a problem. Meanwhile, Chivas have not had consistent goalscorers except Nick LaBrocca, so there was a vacuum that Angel could fill right away. He's played as a primary target striker for Chivas, and it has worked great, because Chivas have no other striker that fills that role.
All that said, I don't necessarily expect Angel to play at a high level for long. It would be great if he could consistently score for the rest of his tenure with Chivas, I don't think he's the player he once was, and so I think it's best to ride this out as long as it lasts.
TGP: I think Moreno's absence this summer for the Copa America produced mixed results for Chivas. Above all, I think it helped Nick LaBrocca emerge as the offensive fulcrum for the team, out of necessity as there weren't really any other consistent goal scorers on the team. For Moreno himself, I think Venezuela's trip to the semifinals at the Copa was really good because he scored a few times after he returned to Chivas. I think the pressure of the tournament and Venezuela's surprise run gave him a confidence boost that lasted for a few matches. However, he hasn't scored since August 6, so he's not really in form at the moment. He's great for drawing fouls, as I'm sure Union fans remember, but the goals have been hard to come by lately for Moreno.
As for Braun, the secret is that he's not the goal-scoring machine everybody thinks he is. He's scored eight goals this year, which is good, no question. But he's only scored in four matches all season, so consistency is a huge problem. The playing time while Moreno was gone was good for Braun, but he needs to work on scoring more consistently moving forward.
tBG: Robin Fraser says that stopping Le Toux is Chivas' key to their gameplan. Do you think that they can pull it off?
TGP: Before last weekend's 3-0 victory over Toronto FC, I would have been extremely pessimistic about Chivas' chances in this match. I still think TFC made it easy for Chivas, but I think the bump from a dominating victory could give the team some much-needed momentum. The big test will be to see if Chivas can keep a clean sheet in the first 20 minutes of the game, as that has been a real struggle lately. When Chivas give up an early goal, they often give up another early goal, and an early deficit turns out to be too much to overcome.
This is an inexperienced defense playing for Chivas at the moment, so I think they could be very brittle on Sunday, but I remain cautiously optimistic.