3 things learned from Chivas' draw at Vancouver
Another trip to Canada, another point for Chivas USA.
The Goats' scoreless draw in Vancouver last weekend marked their second straight shutout of the year. And while Chivas USA may find themselves in the basement of the overall table in MLS with a scant three points, it's clear progress is being made. Here are the three things that we learned this last weekend:
Heath Pearce is a legitimate MLS center back
In just his fourth game at central defense, Pearce continued to excel as the new leader of the Chivas USA back line. Partnered alongside Andrew Boyens, Pearce did well to help close down Whitecaps Designated Player Eric Hassli and force the burly Frenchman into poor shooting decisions.
Perhaps where Pearce truly showed his meddle was as a vocal leader working in tandem with the active Dan Kennedy in goal to limit potential mistakes by a defense that had seen several over the first few weeks.
It's likely Pearce may have finally found his position after moving around from the fullback and flank spots over his career. Expect him to line up alongside Jimmy Conrad when the Chivas USA captain returns from a concussion.
Simon Elliott is hoping to become the leader of the midfield
The New Zealand international returned to the starting XI after missing the start of the season recovering from offseason knee surgery. Playing as the club’s holding midfielder in a new 4-4-2 formation, Elliott was a threat pushing the ball up forward to create opportunities in the Whitecaps' defensive end.
While poor finishing once again kept Chivas USA off the score sheet, the club clearly showed a new energy in attack due to the play of the World Cup veteran. The veteran Kiwi midfielder also did well working alongside Ben Zemanski to force turnovers and keep influential Whitecaps midfielder Davide Chiumento from making a serious impact on the match.
The next week will be vital for Elliott as the Rojiblancos face Simon Dawkins, Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose's dangerous attack on Saturday. Also looming is the specter of midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who Chivas USA may decide to bring in on Tuesday. Should the Rojiblancos add the US World Cup veteran, it is likely that the battle for spots in the already crowded midfield may become more intense.
Paulo Nagamura is ready to create a spark
The Vancouver match was the season debut for Nagamura, who came back from a calf strain injury to play 30 minutes in the draw. While on the field, the Brazilian was his tenacious self as he worked hard to break up attacks and create counterattacking opportunities.
While Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser was likely pleased with his play, Nagamura’s hard-charging ways did lead to some scary moments after he went to the ground hard after an Hassli tackle that resulted in a yellow for the Frenchman.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano