Goats' three bright spots in loss to Sounders
Ever since Chivas USA were eliminated from contention for the 2010 MLS postseason, head coach Martín Vásquez and his players have been talking about using their final run of matches as a chance to improve and build momentum for next year.
With that in mind, MLSsoccer.com picks out three bright spots for the future from the Goats’ 2-1 loss to Seattle on Friday night.
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One of Chivas USA’s major issues this season has been the lack of a real leader.
Ever since MLS veteran Jesse Marsch retired at the end of last season, the Goats have not had a guy on the field who can takes charge of his teammates and urge them forward, one who can get in the opponents’ faces if for no other reason to rile his own teammates up.
The Red-and-White had struggled to fill the role – until Paulo Nagamura came along.
Nagamura had always been a vital piece of the Chivas USA lineup, but had often played second fiddle to Marsh in terms of leadership. However, ever since Nagamura began to rediscover his form after a short stint away at Mexican First Division side Tigres UANL, the scrappy midfielder is finally assuming the role of on-the-pitch general.
This was evident on Friday, as Nagamura patrolled the midfield at a fearsome pace and shouted instructions. If he can continue to transition into that leadership role, Chivas USA’s young guns will have a hard-nosed, guiding force to get behind next year.
The guy behind the guy
Much of the talk surrounding Chivas USA’s offense this year has centered on the breakout season of Justin Braun.
The Salt Lake City native has notched nine goals and is finally starting to live up to the potential that Preki saw in him as an amateur player three years ago. But Braun hasn’t been the Goat’s only goal-scorer this year.
Without anyone really noticing, second-year midfielder Jesus Padilla has notched six goals this year, including a 91st-minute header against Seattle on Friday.
The former Chivas de Guadalajara man can be inconsistent, but when it comes down to it, he puts the ball into the net when others often cannot. It’s not always pretty, but a goal is a goal.
As the Goats look to improve their offense for next season (they currently boast the third-lowest Goals Scored mark in all of MLS), Padilla’s ability to produce – whether elegantly or not – will come in handy.
A natural left winger
Jorge Flores’ career at Chivas USA has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
After winning the inaugural Sueño MLS Open Tryout in 2007, the young LA native burst into the first team the following season by scoring 3 goals in just 11 appearances.
He faded the following year, failing to find the back of the net and playing just 348 total minutes all season. This season had been much the same until about two weeks ago, when Flores started showing signs of returning to the form that had gotten him noticed.
Now, Flores is back. He was dangerous all night on the left flank against Seattle, starting the play that ultimately ended with the Goats’ only goal. He was also impressive last weekend against Toronto, when he opened the scoring with a great run into the box.
The best part about Flores? He’s still only 21 years old.
If he continues to make forward strides on the left side of the pitch, Chivas USA may have finally found an exciting and energetic player who can provide good offense from the that side for years to come.