Chivas USA – A “Real” Goat Parade!

Change for change sake would have been a likely title for this team as well – but for all the wrong reasons…

Like 2012, Chivas USA simply didn’t perform very well – the season started with Head Coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola and on May 29 Jose Luis Real Casillas replaced him.

At that time Chivas had appeared to run a very aggressive 3-5-2 formation and early on it did catch some teams unaware.

To start the campaign, in March, Chivas took 10 points out of a possible 15 with a superb 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy probably being their best performance.

As April and May rolled around however, Chivas took just 1 point out of their next 7 games. Most would assume that during those two months the other MLS teams began to get switched on about ways to penetrate the flat back three, and with that, Sanchez was out the door.

So what sort of team performance indicators came from those first three months in comparison to the rest of the season?

To begin, the combined average percentage of possession for Chivas USA last year was 44.16%; with the team, under Sanchez, averaging 47.28% while under Real averaging 42.88%.

I think it would be fair to say that under Real, Chivas scaled back their attack and looked to play counter while hunkering down a bit more in their own defending third – bottom line is they abandoned the flat back three.

The total number of defensive activities, across the entire pitch, averaged just over 73 with Sanchez in charge while with Real, they averaged just over 51; that represents, in my view, a significant drop off in forward pressure and reinforces a turtle shell approach with Real.

What’s even more interesting is that with Real they also averaged 15 fewer defensive actions, in their own defending third (32), compared to working under Sanchez when they averaged just over 47.

So they not only rolled back their defensive alignment they also played less aggressive in defending their own final third.

So how about the attacking side of things?

With Sanchez, Chivas averaged ~328 completed passes per game with a passing accuracy of ~69%; with Real they averaged 340 passes completed per game with an accuracy rating of ~75%.

As such, with Real at the helm, it is again quite clear that their team approach changed – they became more accurate in their passing (improvement over 5%) while also increasing the volume of their passes. A reasonable interpretation here is that Chivas played more short and simple passes that were more simple to complete; perhaps others have a different view?

What’s intriguing is that under Real, Chivas USA actually penetrated their opponents defending third 5% less per game than they did under Sanchez; so they not only played more short passes and more simple passes they also penetrated less; got less productive…

Did that reduction in penetration drive reduced Shots Taken, Shots on Goal and Goals Scored?

It most certainly did – all told with Sanchez, Chivas averaged ~10 Shots Taken, 3.36 Shots on Goal and .97 Goals Scored.

With Real, Chivas averaged 9.55 Shots Taken, 3.14 Shots on Goal and .74 Goals Scored. Clearly, under Real, Chivas had a lower attacking team performance when it came to measurable outputs.

Bottom line here is they had less penetration, played a less complicated game of soccer, and produced less output in the critical indicators under Real than they did under Sanchez.

How about the results driven outputs on the defensive side of the pitch?

We’ve already noted that Chivas USA defensive activities were less productive under Real.

In looking at Goals Against, Chivas had a worse Goals Against per game (2.16), with Real, than Sanchez (1.99); and that’s with Sanchez running that intriguing 3-5-2. By the way; wasn’t the addition of Bocanegra supposed to improve this team?

Again, team results got worse under Real than Sanchez when it came to defense.

As for bottom line results in the League Table?

Under Sanchez, Chivas USA took 11 points out of a possible 36 points (13 games); under Real, Chivas USA took 15 points out of a possible 66 points (21 games).

That’s .28 points per game under Sanchez and .24 points per game under Real; that means both team performance and team results got worse under Real than with Sanchez at the helm!

In closing…

In considering the reduction in team performance and team results its probably no surprise that has Real stepped down.

At this time, the article covering Real’s departure indicates “Rebano Angelino” will take over in 2014? (I have since learned that phrase, translated in Spanish, means LA Flock 🙂   Thanks go to the Goat Parade for that clarification!

In reading that article the following quote (discussing Real) is provided for your consideration.

“In 21 games leading the Goats, Coach Real and his group were able to record three victories and six draws, while implementing a more organized and structured style of play that will set the standard and system on the pitch ahead of Rebano Angelino’s campaign”.

I find the choice of words used by Chivas USA intriguing; they chose to highlight the ‘increased organization and structure’ which clearly takes a bite at Sanchez. For most, results count, but for Sanchez apparently not.

When results count again, next year, Chivas USA will need to do more than continue to improve the organization and structure; so far the team has added Mauro Rosales and AJ Baptiste. With 13 roster slots available it’s reasonable to expect they add at roughly 5 more midfielders (2-3 starters), 4 more defenders (2-3 starters), 3 new forwards (1 starter?) and one more goalie…

Late edit also comes from where reports indicate Adolofo “Bofo” Bautista has signed with Chivas this past Friday…

Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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