CARSON, Calif. – With an overwhelming 3-0 victory at home over the New England Revolution this past weekend, Chivas USA extended their five-game unbeaten streak to five matches.
The win was immense for the Goats as they prepare for an unforgiving month of May that includes road tilts in New York and Columbus but begins with a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Real Salt Lake.
Here are the three things that we learned this weekend about the Rojiblancos:
Moreno is the catalyst for Chivas USA’s attack
Whether it was setting up Marcos Mondaini’s golazo, finding the net himself or just being a general nuisance for the Revolution defense, Alejandro Moreno has taken the mantle as Chivas USA’s chief attacker.
Moreno exploited the Revs’ inexperienced defense with opportune runs – like the one that helped set up Mondaini's strike – but where the crafty veteran was most effective was in holding the ball to allow the midfielders to join the attack. His play let the Goats consistently throw numbers forward and test New England.
“We played some good soccer [on Saturday], we were dangerous going forward and we were dynamic,” said Moreno after the match. “Our players were able to interchange well in the final third and we took advantage of the situations and the opportunities that we created.”
This newfound dynamic in the attack will face its stiffest test next week when Moreno & Co. take on Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers and the rest of RSL’s formidable defense.
Elliott, LaBrocca are creating a highly effective possession game
Paramount to head coach Robin Fraser's philosophy at Chivas USA is developing an energetic midfield that can control possession and also provide effective service to the attack. It appears that the Simon Elliot and Nick LaBrocca (at right) tandem has done just that.
[inline_node:335269]Playing in a midfield triangle, Elliott mans the top and battles for possession, giving LaBrocca the freedom to go forward. With the pair working off one another, wingers Jorge Flores and Ben Zemanski have found space to pressure opponents along the flanks.
“With everyone moving around the field … that’s when we’re at our best,” said Zemanski after the match. “When we just play simple, then we’re confident as a team and as players.”
Against New England, the Rojiblancos’ energetic tactic proved too much for the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber. The duo, which relies on possession to make an impact on the match, struggled as Elliott and LaBrocca refused to share the ball.
Elliot and LaBrocca are also in for quite a challenge against RSL’s Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman.
Despite some early season tinkering, this lineup is here to stay
During the first few months of the season, the questions for Chivas USA all centered on key battles for starting spots.
The starting lineup has seen only one change in the last month, when Zarek Valentin filled in for the injured Michael Lahoud. Apart from that, Fraser has maintained the same group in the past three matches.
The Goats may have found success with this group, but the potential return of first-choice players Paulo Nagamura and Jimmy Conrad may test the cohesiveness of this group. Although the injured players may be champing at the bit to return to the lineup, Fraser is unlikely to make any changes to the lineup against RSL.
“We have guys injured who we feel are very important parts of the team, but I think you have to look at the guys who are doing the job today and be proud of them,” said Fraser. “It’s great when we see no matter who goes into the game, the guys are understanding their roles and doing well, which is a great testament to how we’re doing as a team.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano