Chivas USA heated in Kansas City
It was such a hot, muggy night Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium that no player, it seemed, wanted to come out once they were in the game. And then once players did come off the field, things seemed to heat up even more.
Chivas USA defender Ryan Suarez played only 28 minutes before coach Hans Westerhof pulled him off the field and inserted Francisco Gomez. Suarez did not come off quietly, rebuffing Westerhof's attempt to explain the situation.
And Kansas City's Josh Wolff walked past Wizards coach Bob Gansler, barely acknowledging the coach's outstretched hand when he was pulled off the 69th minute.
Suarez was not following Westerhof's instructions concerning how to play, specifically, that the defense should move more forward than it was.
"He can make decisions in the game," Westerhof said. "But when they are bad decisions, I have to go change it. I can understand that someone is upset that he had to leave the game in the first half. But it is part of the job and I don't accept (Suarez's reaction)."
Suarez left the Chivas USA dressing room very quickly after the game was unavailable to answer questions about leaving the game in the first half. But beyond the disagreement between Suarez and Westerhof is the effectiveness of team on the field.
"The big problem is not up front," Westerhof said. "A lot times things are going wrong in the midfield."
Before Chivas USA can play well, the gaps in the midfield -- sometimes big gaps that Kansas City moved the ball through -- must be tightened.
"They fight for every ball but they so easily give it away," Westerhof said.
The players are fighting for each other on the field, forward Hector Cuadros said. "We are trying to leave it all on the field," Cuadros said. "We are not having luck and luck is something we have to work on. We have to make our own luck."
Chivas USA has only one draw in eight games away from The Home Depot Center. But this was the first time Chivas USA was shut out away from The Home Depot Center since May 18. The 2-0 loss to Los Angeles on May 28 was in Carson, Calif., but technically a home game for the Galaxy.
"We are not getting results at home or on the road so we can't say it is the way we play on the road," Cuadros said, "We are having problems at home, too."
One of the problems was the timing of the Wizards' first goal. It came in the first minute of the second half seconds after Chivas USA made a good defensive play clearing free kick out of their penalty area. But the ball was played immediately back into the area by Kerry Zavagnin. Sasha Victorine nodded the ball down to Jimmy Conrad, who had just enough time to settle and score with a right-footed shot.
"It can't happen. You have to concentrate," said Gomez, who played with the Wizards for six seasons before Chivas selected him in the expansion draft. "At the end of a half and at the beginning of a half, that is most important time to concentrate, especially away from home."
Gomez has played in the league long enough to know that those one-goal deficits can be turned around, although with perhaps more difficulty, even on the road.
But the Wizards added two more goals. Davy Arnaud scored in the 70th minute on his first time on the ball after coming on for Wolff. Then Victorine scored in the 85th minute on a clinical free header from free kick by Chris Klein.
"Giving up a goal like that maybe guys put their head down and think we don't have a chance," Gomez said. "At times, mentally you have to stay in it and have a lot of concentration. It's concentration for 90 minutes."
A large part of turning Chivas USA's fortunes around will be more possession, leading to less attacking and counterattacking by their opponents.
"We need some more production," Gomez said. "We are playing an attacking formation and we are getting no production. I don't know what happened in the first half. We contained them but we got caught with their counterattack. When we go forward, that's what we talk about - possession, possession."
Robert Whitman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.