Over the next three weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2012 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with Toronto FC and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2012 record: 7-18-9 (30 points); 24 GF / 58 GA (-34 GD)
The best thing to say about the 2012 Chivas USA team is, “Wow, they sure did give Dan Kennedy a chance to look spectacular every week.” He was more than happy to comply as, up until about the end of July, he kept them within shouting distance of a playoff spot.
But when Kennedy finally started playing like a mortal, Chivas sank like a stone, and were arguably the league’s worst team from late summer onward. Over the regular season’s last two-and-a-half months, they had five separate four-goal losses. They took four points from their last 14 games (0-10-4). They were bad in a “Holy crap, I’m having flashbacks to 2005" kind of way.
It’s hard to write about their tactical approach in 2012 and what they could do different in 2013, since their tactical approach never seemed to stick from week to week. One game they’d be possession, the next they’d play bunker-ball, and the week after that they’d open it up and go forward with gusto (that 6-2 loss to Seattle in mid-August is the game you’re thinking of right now).
Through it all, they never found a consistent goalscorer, never established an identity, and, until the season’s last couple of weeks, were in danger of being the lowest-scoring team in league history.
One thing we can say with a certainty, though: The inability to get Nick LaBrocca in behind the defense was the biggest difference between 2011, when Chivas were “decent,” and 2012, when they were decidedly “not.”
GOAL: LaBrocca opens the scoring
Figuring out how to get LaBrocca involved again should be job No. 1 of the new regime. Or, if they’re going for the full rebuild, they need to figure out how to get as much as they possibly can for him in a trade, because this guy is really good – and the rest of the league knows it.
There’s also the small matter of Juan Agudelo, the wunderkind who only really showed up at the beginning and end of the season.
Whatever worry is found there, however, probably has to take a back seat to Agudelo’s potential, and the fact that he fits snugly into the multicultural identity that owner Jorge Vergara wants for the side now that he’s taken full control. That is if Celtic don’t make an offer Chivas can’t refuse in the offseason.
Aside from that, anyone who tells you they know exactly what to expect from Chivas in 2013 is selling something. It’s been 23 days and counting since Vergara said Johan Cryuff would name a new coach to replace Robin Fraser, and in the interim, Cryuff himself was fired.
And now Kennedy's reportedly on the trade block. And Danny Califf, their one reliable defender, is in the Re-Entry Draft.
That should give you some idea as to the lay of the land on the Red-and-White side of the Home Depot Center. It’s not pretty right now, and it will take some time before it is again. So to all you Goat fans: Tengan paciencia.