Union vs Chivas USA
StubHub Center, Los Angeles CA
The Union remained in California this week to complete their West Coast Swing. The return of Maurice Edu, following his USMNT snub, and a reshuffle of the starting XI could not change their fate against an LA Galaxy featuring a Landon Donovan looking to prove a point to Jürgen Klinsmann. In true Union fashion the Zolos were more than accommodating, but can now at least say that they are in the record books as the team that Donovan put to the sword to claim the all-time MLS scoring record.
This week the Union face Chivas USA, a team that mirrors their own situation pretty closely. Both teams currently sit 9th in their respective conferences, have leading goal scorers in the single digits, and are currently in the throes of a personality crisis. These are both teams trying to find a balance, unsuccessfully. They even have eerily similar records: The Union have 2W-7L-5T with 11 points from 14 matches, and Chivas touts a 2W-6L-4T and tally of 10 points from 12 matches. The two clubs have both lost their last matches at the Stubby and are desperate to halt their downward spirals.
Ripe for the picking
Chivas are really ripe for the picking, losing their last four home matches and having been outscored 11-2 in the process. The Union however, are the best streak-breakers in the league. So the Zolos' inability to put the ball in the back of the net should go a long way to helping Chivas break their winless streak. This match could be a ready-made three points for almost any other team in the league.
The Hackworth Effect
There has been much speculation over John Hackworth’s likelihood of remaining the Union manager past the World Cup break, so much so that both the coach and the players have spoken out publicly calling for calm and defending the former US Youth Team coach. The issue is that Hackworth has not been doing himself any favors by backing up his claims that he is the right man for the job by adding to the W column. As long as the winless stretches continue, there will be speculation over his future unfortunately.
The hallmark of the 2014 Philadelphia Union is that they are consistently inconsistent. It’s just too tough to call any match this season. They have looked promising, they have looked abysmal, and they have touched every adjective in-between. So one side of me wants to call this 1-0 to the Union and the other says to call it 3-0 to the Goats. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which is exactly where this match will be decided. Cabrera’s men seem to have issues getting the ball to Erick Torres in dangerous areas and the Union have had problems finding a dangerous area. Chivas has struggled to capitalize on free kicks and the Union have issues defending them. The Union have relied heavily on the skill and drive of just a few midfielders and the ability of a talented keeper to stop defensive mistakes from turning into goals, Chivas likewise. So as you can see, this is anyone’s match and with the luck that both teams seem to have this season, my prediction is that it will be neither’s. I call shenanigans and a TIE