Scoring at a premium for Chivas USA

In last week's preseason finale against Spanish side Osasuna, Club Deportivo Chivas USA fans waited for a goal.

And waited.

And waited some more.

In the end, it was all for naught as Chivas USA were shut out 1-0.

Now, heading into the season opener April 2 against D.C. United, the club comes in with a horde of questions surrounding its offense, or lack thereof. For against Osasuna, the club showed little creativity and offensive
spark.

"With three attackers, it's important that we get more wing play, we get more crosses and get more numbers in the box and that's clearly not happening," said Chivas USA head coach Thomas Rongen. "It's a combination of lack of service and I think lack of still being on the same page with our attacking crew."

Chivas USA lines up with Matt Taylor at left forward, Arturo Torres on the right and either Thiago Martins or Isaac Romo in the center. The quartet has scored a total of four MLS goals entering the 2005 season.

Midway through the preseason, Luis Alonso Sandoval left the club. Sandoval was one of the team's youngest and most exciting prospects when he departed. He was penciled in as starter in Taylor's spot before leaving. Had Sandoval been on the team, Taylor likely would have moved back to the right and Torres would have provided either quality minutes at right midfield or as a replacement for Taylor.

Nevertheless, the club certainly has talented attacking players but has not shown it lately. In their last seven preseason matches, Chivas USA scored nine goals. However, six came against USL Premier Development League side Fresno Fuego. That leaves three goals from six matches: two against fellow expansion side Real Salt Lake and another against Club America.

For Rongen, it's a question of moving the ball around and keeping defenses honest.

"We have to improve in the ball circulation," he said. "We have to open up the field. We have to stretch the team. We need to keep the ball better because if not the pressure keeps mounting from the other team."

Chivas USA midfielder Hector Cuadros has struggled in the attacking midfielder position. Often, Cuadros finds himself surrounded by two or more defenders. Such suffocating pressure on Chivas USA's main distributor has
effectively stalled the attack.

"Hector is on paper our No. 10, our creator but we need to get a little more out of him and out of that position as well," Rongen said.

In order for Chivas USA to succeed offensively, the club will need a strong collective effort from the entire roster.

"We don't have that one player who really starts and makes the final pass, who scores every goal," Taylor said. "We don't have that big marquee No. 10 or No. 9. We don't have that big time player up front or attacking midfield. We're really going to have to play through everybody and everyone's going to have to hold their own and do their own job for everyone to get their chances."

Still, it's not just one or two players failing to step up, Torres said.

"Whatever it is we need to work on, the coaches are definitely going to put their fingers on it and point it out to us during the week and that's we're going to work on," he said.

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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