With star forward Erick "Cubo" Torres, Chivas USA has the worst offense in the league, with only 21 goals scored in 25 games. With Torres, they have the fewest shots in the league and the fewest shots on goal. With Torres, they have the fewest final third passes, the second fewest total passes, and the second fewest corners. With Torres they haven't scored in 6 games (and that goal was scored by.. Torres).
But thanks to a red card in his last match, the Chivas team Seattle is playing this week is the one without Torres. That's a team no one's seen all season. But it is almost certainly a much worse Chivas than the one with Torres. Since May 17 there has been only one match — a 3-1 road win over Vancouver in July — in which a player other than Torres scored. May. 17th. They've had one winning streak all season. . a 4 game run through June and July. The first three games of that streak were 1-0 victories. All three times the lone goal was scored by Torres. Their second leading scorer is Marvin Chavez with two. He scored both of his goals in one game on May 11.
|Leando Barrera||Crafty winger might be the lone playmaker on the Chivas team. He can do damage if he gets behind Yedlin.|
|Augustin Pelletieri||Veteran hacker will be responsible for hacking Seattle's central attack.|
|Dan Kennedy||Godspeed, Dan. Nobody made you sign that contract extension, so you brought this on yourself.|
So I don't know how they're going to score or through whom. A shutout seems like a reasonable guess. But what I do know is that they will be committing some fouls.
Chivas' other statistical fingerprint — other than being offensively inept and wholly dependent on the Mexican forward — is that they are a pretty violent team. Rather at odds with the lovable-loser, "everybody likes Chivas" perception, they are first in the league in fouls, first in tackles, first in yellow cards, and second in red cards. Interestingly, they do not have a single player who is near the top of the league in fouling. Instead, it's spread throughout the team. Their top foulers are Torres himself (who's a physical forward despite his size) and the defensive midfield pair of Oswaldo Minda and Augustin Pelletieri.
That means we're going to see a lot of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins on the ground (assuming they play), and Seattle's best route of attack might be free kicks. Unfortunately, the Sounders' best free kick taker — Marco Pappa — is away on international duty. So this would likely a game for Dempsey to take any kicks within 25 yards and go straight for goal. But he might not be playing either, as he's hinted he needs a rest. If Seattle can't punish them for hacking, it's going to be a long night.
Offensively, without Torres and with Mauro Rosales traded away, Chivas will have to try to build through Leando Barrera on the left wing. He's their lone creative player and can do some damage if he can get behind the defense. That will be DeAndre Yedlin's primary responsibility and it will be interesting to see how the young fullback balances that responsibility with the need to go forward to provide width in the attack.
This is a match Seattle should win comfortably. More importantly, if they don't I think the Shield might be out of reach. Not because it'll be mathematically impossible to win it. . a two game series against LA to finish the season will probably be the decider. But because if you can't beat this Chivas team without Torres, even on the road, then I'm not sure you can be relied on to beat anyone. And honestly, there are hints that the offense still isn't right. That big win over the Timbers papered over a lot of cracks. Yes the Sounders beat Colorado, but it was by one goal at home. They drew woeful San Jose at home. Other than Portland, they haven't scored more than one goal on the road since before the World Cup kicked off.
They need to figure out how to score consistently again against a team that isn't the Timbers. And Chivas is the perfect team against whom to figure it out.