CARSON, Calif. — When Chivas USA turned to the bench to try and get back into Saturday’s match against San Jose, Juan Pablo Ángel and José Correa answered the call.
A question arose after the match regarding the duo, though. Being the capable players they are, and with the dearth of goals that has plagued Chivas, why have neither Ángel nor Correa featured more?
It’s simple, assistant coach Greg Vanney (pictured above, at right) said. Chivas are going with what they’ve got in the starting lineup – Juan Agudelo and Casey Townsend – and what they’ve got they feel comfortable with.
“We’ve given them a run of games to see if they could continue to grow together and create a relationship that could create and finish some goals,” Vanney said Saturday, as he helmed the Rojiblancos following head coach Robin Fraser’s ejection for arguing with referee Chris Penso. “Agudelo does a good job of popping in underneath and getting at balls and turning and running at defenses. Casey does a good job of stretching defenses out and he’s willing to run behind.”
Heading into Wednesday’s game at Columbus, Chivas will have gone with the Agudelo-Townsend pairing for six consecutive matches. While the attack responded favorably in the first three games – the Goats scored six goals, with Agudelo and Townsend combining for one goal and three assists – the attack has once again sputtered recently, with just Nick LaBrocca’s tally at Seattle the only goal in the last three games.
While finishing has evaded them, chances are there as the attack is still pressuring opponents. And perhaps with Townsend at least, the club is being a bit patient and giving the rookie an opportunity to continue his development during games.
“To be fair, he’s probably our only main forward who’s willing to run in behind defenses and constantly try to stretch a team out, which creates space for our midfielders to be able to play,” Vanney said. “Casey has a nose for the goal, but unfortunately hasn’t found the back of the net as often as we’d like.”
This season, Ángel leads the team in goals with four, while Correa has added a pair. But as long as the coaching staff continues to show faith in the youngsters up front, their contributions will be limited to off-the-bench roles.
“Casey’s [willing] to run and keep defenses honest and Agudelo’s willing to run and get on the ball and turn and drive on the backline,” Vanney said. “We just felt like they’ve been a good combination.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.