Brotherly Game: The Gabriel Farfan trade seemed to be heavily in the favor of the Union, considering Chivas USA's misfortunes this year that have left it in the pit of despair of MLS. How has he played for Chivas? Was it worth the trade?
The Goat Parade: I think Farfan's played fine, about what I expected. I was hoping he had been shackled with the Union, and coming to Chivas meant he could be free to show the full complement of his game (similar to how Eric Avila has blossomed this season), but no, he looks about the same as he did in Philly. His versatility has already come in handy as he's played multiple positions already, but most recently he's been playing as a holding midfielder, out of necessity. He's fine there, but clearly inexperienced, and I hope new coach Jose Luis Real doesn't just make Farfan the team's d-mid for the rest of the season.
Overall, was the trade worth it? I'm really torn here, because Chivas needs more MLS experience, and he definitely brings that. I think Chivas gave up way too much for him, and I don't think he's the kind of player you get really excited about. He's serviceable, but I guess overall I'm still pretty lukewarm on him.
BG: There seems to be a reversal of the Chivas de Guadelajara like player personnel policies, with the addition of players like the USMNT's Carlos Bocanegra. Is this a sign of change at Chivas USA? Or perhaps a sign of the future with the possibility of new ownership?
The Goat Parade: Those are great questions, but I don't think I really have any solid answers at this point. I think the perception looks like the full-on farm team plan that was starting to be implemented last month with Avila going to Guadalajara to trial for Chivas, and the fact that the team payroll had been slashed to the bone, gave the club and owners unbelievably bad press. To me, the signing of Bocanegra, and the return of Avila to MLS after Chivas de Guadalajara gushed about him makes me think they realized they may have overdone it, and made those moves to correct the course a bit. I still don't think they've abandoned the objective of using Chivas USA as a feeder for Chivas de Guadalajara, which is clearly still the number one priority in the organization, but perhaps they realized they need to throw some bones to the long-suffering Chivas USA fans.
As for the possibility of new ownership, I still think that is entirely plausible, although it appears the timetable might have changed, or the Vergaras are asking too much for Chivas USA, and that is scaring off potential buyers. But that's something we'll have to monitor in the coming months.
BG: Just like the Union, Chivas USA have been sued by a former employee(s). How has that case gone since it was publicly revealed earlier this year?
The Goat Parade: The lawsuit itself was filed at the end of May, so it's barely gotten off the ground on the legal front. On the PR front, it's of course been pretty damning for the club, and offers grist for the mill of people who have said Chivas' policies have been discriminatory. While non-Latino players have largely (though not entirely) been jettisoned from the team, and the club has signed just one apparently non-Latino player this year (and that just happened last week), the players who have left the team have nearly all gotten new jobs, and a substantial number of the Latinos on the squad are American citizens.
Still, HBO has gotten in the mix on the discrimination lawsuit by the Academy coaches, and will be doing a segment about it on "Real Sports" this month - probably not the kind of press the league wants to see. And if the suit goes to trial, and if the allegations are proven in court, then the charges reveal a seriously messed-up (and illegal) culture at the club.
Lineup and scoreline predictions:
GK: Dan Kennedy
D: Carlos Borja, Mario de Luna, Walter Vilchez, Josue Soto
M: Eric Avila, Carlos Alvarez, Gabriel Farfan, Edgar Mejia, Jorge Villafana
F: Erick Torres
Prediction: 1-1 draw.
My answers to Alicia's questions are below:
TGP: Philadelphia has largely stuck to their plan of having a young and talented roster, and now their persistence appears to be bearing fruit. How has the season gone so far for the Union, and at this point in the season, what is the goal for this team?
BG: The goal for this team is to make the playoffs. The season has gone well for them so far, providing them with an amazing easy opening half of the year to give them the chance to get into the playoffs. The lack of strength in the Union's schedule up until this point has really masked their overall ineptitude. The midfield has been awful all year, Raymon Gaddis as a left back has been somewhat of a disaster, Jack McInerney is pretty much the entire offense and Zac MacMath has displayed an inability to find his consistency.
Head coach John Hackworth has shown an over reliance on the stereotypical American player: hard working, strong, hustle, etc. It's going to come back to haunt the Union. Philadelphia has already slipped from third place in the East to fifth place, despite three straight games of having a man advantage prior to the 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo.
TGP: Defensively, Philly often play well, but they seem to let in quite a few goals. What's working on the backline, and in what ways can Chivas take advantage of their vulnerabilities?
BG: Gaddis at left back is a big problem, since he's a second year player who is really a right back and only has his right foot. His best attribute is his speed, which allows him to recover very well, but he sometimes thinks too highly of his own physical gifts and he takes risks that cause problems. It's not Gaddis' fault; he was thrust into a new situation and he really isn't suited to it. The Union traded the team's former starting left back, Gabriel Farfan, to Chivas USA this season and even he was a liability in the back. Philadelphia has had only two true left backs on roster in four seasons (Jordan Harvey, Porfirio Lopez), and it just added a third in Fabio Alves, aka Fabinho, who has rather mixed reviews from fans of Australia's A-League.
As for what's working... I guess one could say that the center back pairing of Amobi Okugo and Jeff Parke has done well enough, but even they have had their own lapses, which has caused confidence issues in MacMath. Even Sheanon Williams, who has been the team's starting right back since the end of the 2010 season, has taken a step back this year.
At some point the Union are either going to stop letting in so many goals, or they're going to really be in trouble defensively. The backline is straddling a fine line at the moment.
TGP: I think most people who are familiar with MLS know of Jack McInerney's scoring tear so far this season, but he won't be in this game as he's with the USMNT. Is there another player who has really flown under the radar but is impressing you this season?
BG: I don't think there's really anyone who fits this question. MacMath is iffy, the backline is iffy, the midfield is almost non-existent and other than McInerney, everyone already knows of Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux.
Can Roger Torres count? He finally got in another game last week.
Prediction for the game?
(r-l) Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Raymon Gaddis
Michael Farfan, Leo Fernandes, Danny Cruz
Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey
1-1, because somehow the Union will give up a goal late for the tie.