Three goals against San Jose on Saturday seemed to cure Club Deportivo Chivas USA's scoring woes. Now, the club looks to solve its problems on the other side of the field.
What had been a strength entering the season, Chivas USA's defense has been run ragged in its two Major League Soccer matches. The club has allowed five goals in its two regular season matches after allowing just three goals against three first division clubs in to finish the preseason.
But two D.C. United counterattacks and three San Jose set pieces has the club re-assessing its defensive standing.
"We've worked diligently on preventing the counter, no doubt, and we've done better there. Now we have to improve on the set piece part," Chivas USA head coach Thomas Rongen said. "I don't think there's ever been a team that's played perfect football. That's something that you try to attain as a coach and keep working hard to make that happen."
Defending across the board needs to improve, whether it's in one-on-one or two-on-two situations, Rongen said.
Whether it's individual or group defending, opposing teams might take advantage of the club's team speed, or lack thereof, and the club could continue to face counterattack after counterattack throughout the season.
"Let's be honest. We don't have a lot of team speed. And obviously you counterattack a team that's not as athletic as you are," defender Ryan Suarez said. "We knew going in that we're not as athletic as other teams but we have a lot more skills than most teams."
Against D.C. United, Chivas USA surrendered possession and watched the defending champions execute a pair of well-run counters.
Against San Jose, Chivas USA's defense was on its heels several times but held on its counters. It was the set pieces that did the Red-and-White in. Brad Davis scored directly on a free kick while Troy Dayak and Brian Ching scored on free kicks sent into the area.
"That's an area where we have to work on," Rongen said. "Brad (Guzan) needs to assert himself a little better."
It was a collective collapse in defending against the set pieces that led to the goals. San Jose players appeared to have plenty of room to maneuver while Chivas USA defenders as well as Guzan appeared not to have been in the best positions.
"As a whole I think we need to get better on them, and me individually, I need to control the box and take command and that will come about with more experience," Guzan said.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.