CARSON, Calif. – Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has not shied from expressing his astonishment with how Chivas USA has responded since manager José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá took the helm. As a result, the 30-year-old net-minder has been generally content with how the 2013 season has started.
There is one glaring exception, though.
“I’m obviously missing a shutout,” Kennedy told reporters recently. “But, other than that, I don’t think we’re missing anything.”
Kennedy kept a clean sheet seven times in 32 starts last year, that after posting nine shutouts in the same amount of games in 2011. He was stellar in the early going last season, surrendering only five goals through seven matches before the bottom fell out in late summer.
This season, the Chivas USA captain has allowed seven goals in five games, but the revitalized club has thrived under Chelís to become one of the league’s offensive leaders in the early going.
Despite having only 20 shots on goal thus far, the Rojiblancos are tied atop the MLS leader board with 10 goals.
“When I go into a season, I don’t really think about us scoring goals because that’s just not my job,” Kennedy said. “But it’s really nice to be on a team that has that kind of support.”
Of course, a team takes more risks when it pushes the tempo.
“Our system is very much built on pressuring the ball,” Kennedy said. “When there are breakdowns, people are going to have to make plays. That’s what all three of our starting defenders have been doing.”
Kennedy’s last shutout came on July 18, 2012, in a 1-0 victory against the Portland Timbers. He looks to end the dry spell this week against the Colorado Rapids, who are among the league leaders in shots taken (72), yet have only registered five goals in six games.
In order to end that string of allowing at least one goal a game, Chivas will need not only Kennedy, but the entire defensive unit to up their games.
“Especially as a defender, we’d like to see zeroes back there,” Bobby Burling told MLSsoccer.com. “Any time we put up a zero it gives our team a chance to win a game. It’s about attention to detail, little plays here and there. If you look at every goal [we have allowed], it’s not just one guy’s fault, it’s a combination of three or four plays.”