Chivas USA hope for finishing touch

CARSON, Calif. - Before the season, Chivas USA officials promised goals and entertaining soccer and while fans have been entertained in the club's high-octane attacking affairs, goals have been slow to come along.

With any luck, the club's offensive output could soon improve, attacker Hector Cuadros said.

"Hopefully, we'll start to get a little bit of luck our way," Cuadros said. "(Last week against San Jose), Isaac (Romo) hit one off the post, I had one go off the crossbar and there were other chances that normally, with a team that has better luck, are going in."

But it's not just good luck the club is focusing on. Building the attack has been a work in progress for Chivas USA. Since the start, the club has started three forwards and has not relented, even in the face of lopsided losses.

Some of the faces have changed - early-season starters Matt Taylor and Arturo Torres have been playing less and less while Antonio Martinez and Francisco Mendoza are now fixtures in the starting lineup - it's the entire system that has undergone a slow development.

"Before, the team maintained possession of the ball," Cuadros said. "Now, we maintain possession and generate scoring chances, which is something we had not been doing. But now that we are creating those scoring chances, we are not finishing them. I think that little by little we need to continue to improve on all aspects of our game."

Finishing has been the missing piece in the club's last two home games.

Against Kansas City on June 1 - the first match in the post-Thomas Rongen era - Chivas USA had several chances early in the second half to break open a 1-1 deadlock. And last week, the club had two shots hit the woodwork and several others go just wide as Chivas USA tied San Jose 1-1.

Since a 5-2 loss to FC Dallas on May 22 - when both Cuadros and Romo hit the back of the net - Chivas USA has scored four goals in four games. The only goal to come from a true attacking player in that span was from Martinez, who scored against Chicago on June 4.

But finishing will come with time, Cuadros said.

"We worked on possession and circulation and improved. We worked on creating more scoring chances and have improved on that as well. Now, it's just a matter of working on our finishing," he said.

Striker Thiago Martins is a reliable presence up front but his output is anything but dependable. Along with Ezra Hendrickson and Ramon Ramirez, Martins has started every game this season.

Martins' last goal came on April 16 and yet he has managed to remain in the lineup while Rongen and now Hans Westerhof have shuffled Taylor, Torres, Cuadros, Romo, Mendoza and Martinez around in the striker positions around him.

Still, Westerhof said Martins is useful up top.

"He is the one who, when there's no chance, he can score a goal and he fights until the last minute," Westerhof said. "I talked with him before the game that he has to take risks. When he smells the area, he has to shoot on goal. With him and Romo, you have people in the box for centers."

Against Colorado, Westerhof said the club will once again come out as the aggressors.

"For us, it's all about winning. It's the only thing that matters," Westerhof said. "We'll be playing the same way and taking risks."

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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