The first month of the season left Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera encouraged but unsatisfied after his team grabbed five points from four matches, capping it with a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Though the four-game stretch might be a small sample size, early indications are that this year could be different as the club aims to combine the off-the-field transition to new ownership with on-field production.
Cabrera told reporters at Red Bull Arena his outlook was auspicious.
“We’re getting some results,” Cabrera said. “They are proving themselves on the field that they can play and we can have a good, competitive team.”
Yet the first-year manager was not in the least bit content.
“You want more,” he said. “You know they can play better and give more on the field. That’s the key. Right now, we’re not comfortable and we’re not happy. In [the locker room] they are very sad and frustrated because they know it’s not a result we wanted. But it’s room to improve and continue working.”
Chivas USA had plenty of bright spots in March; newcomer Mauro Rosales led the league in assists (three) and star forward Erick “Cubo” Torres tied for the lead in goals (four). MLS debutants Leandro Barrera and Agustín Pelletieri appeared to have shrugged off the adjustment period, while the coaching staff has been thoroughly impressed with rookie midfielder Thomas McNamara in the attack.
The Rojiblancos might not have posed much of a threat Sunday against the Red Bulls, especially in a sluggish second half, but McNamara, whose dangerous run midway through the first half led to Torres’ goal from the penalty spot, proved to be a major reason why they returned home with a point in hand.
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“He’s possessing the ball, playing well and creating options,” Cabrera said of McNamara. “He likes to get into the box. When he went into the box, he created the penalty kick. He’s learning well and learning how to play in the league. We’re happy about him.”
Defensively, the Goats showed improvement and nearly recorded their first shutout of the year, with goalkeeper Dan Kennedy being “fantastic,” Cabrera said. Despite the last-minute letdown, Kennedy sounded optimistic about what the start of the season could do for the replenished club.
“In the end, we came here and we got a point,” Kennedy told reporters. “We made it really, really hard on [New York], so we get to go home, regroup and focus on a really great game to be a part of and that’s a SuperClasico against the Galaxy.”