CARSON, Calif. — There was no joy in Chivatown on Saturday as a late defensive mistake prevented Chivas USA from earning a vital point at home against FC Dallas.
A defensive miscommunication between defender Michael Lahoud (above) and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy allowed Jackson Gonçalves to score the winning goal for FCD. That error — and some poor finishing in front of net — led to the Rojiblancos falling 2-1 for their second consecutive loss.
Here are three things we learned from the FC Dallas defeat:
Finishing issues have resurfaced.
Throughout much of the season, the Goats have dealt with struggles in front of net. Against Dallas, it was no different. On several occasions on Saturday night, Chivas USA attackers flubbed chances in front of goal, sending several balls off the frame.
It took a Lahoud shot from 30 yards out that deflected off defender George John for Chivas USA to beat Kevin Hartman. Following the match, head coach Robin Fraser admitted the team needs to be considerably more opportunistic in front of net.
“There’s definitely an issue of precision that needs to happen in order to score goals,” said Fraser, "and when we’ve done that, we’ve been effective, and [against Dallas] we were not precise in the final third. Along with that comes a mentality that you’re going to get on the end of stuff in the box no matter what and [on Saturday] the quality in the final third wasn’t good enough.”
The personnel in the back line are in a state of flux.
Defensive giveaways have been another Achilles heel this season. FCD had a number of chances on Saturday due to Chivas USA turnovers in the back, the most prominent the defensive miscue that led to Jackson’s decisive goal.
These errors come at a time when Fraser has been shifting his defensive personnel. Saturday's defeat was the fifth straight game in which the Chivas back line has seen different faces and pairings.
Fraser has made the most changes of late at the left back position, which has become a battle between veteran Ante Jazic and rookie Zarek Valentin. Valentin appears to be making the move to the left side with Lahoud looking entrenched at right back. There has been only one constant in the back four throughout the season: Heath Pearce, who has yet to miss a game this year for the Rojiblancos.
The team is experiencing midseason growing pains.
Since going undefeated in April, Chivas USA have struggled, winning only twice in their last eight matches. For a team that has hopes of challenging for the playoffs, it must start to find a way to start earning points or risk dropping out of the race.
Ever the perfectionist, Fraser admits that while his team are currently going through the growing pains that developing teams frequently experience, it is no excuse for poor play.
“I'm one of these people who expect a lot,” Fraser told reporters after the match. “I expected a lot as a player, and certainly as a coach I expect a lot, and there is a side to me that realizes there are growing pains with a young team, but I'm not going to sit here and make excuses.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano