More of this, please. (Photo by Andrew Wheeler)
Geoff hit on it this morning - it's only been ten days since the last time the Timbers played Chivas, and all we had to say about them then was that they were the most boring team in MLS.
Ten days haven't changed that.
In fact, the only thing that has changed for either team in the ten days since is they've both lost another game. That is to say, nothing. (Oh, except, Ryan Smith will be unavailable for Saturday's game.)
The obvious question coming out of this is, why do the Timbers keep losing to this team? Their goals per match are still by far the worst in the league, but they have shown none of that difficulty scoring against the Timbers. What's the deal?
The simple answer is that the Timbers' weaknesses are the right kind of weaknesses for Chivas. Portland's biggest strength has been its two strong center backs, who have busied themselves against guys like Alejandro Moreno. That's an easy win for the Timbers.
The strength of Chivas' lineup has been in their midfield and their defense, and that's where they have been beating Portland. Portland's midfield and defense leaves too much space for the opposition to work in, and too much time to create chances. Chivas is a team that is accustomed to getting only a couple of clear chances per game, and given the ineffectiveness of their strikers, they need a lot of chances to get goals. The Timbers have helped them get those chances.
On the other end of the pitch, Chivas' defense is one of the least error-prone in MLS. They do occasionally make mistakes, of course -- the collision we saw between James Riley and Dan Kennedy that produced the only goal Portland has scored against them this season, for example -- but they don't often lose their shape or simply fail to cover a man. They are a well led (with Kennedy at the helm), well organized bunch.
But in spite of the strong defensive corps, Chivas is not a defensive-minded team. They pass very effectively, thanks to the team's strong midfielders, and they put constant pressure on opponents' defenses. They press high up the field, wearing out their opponents' fullbacks and preventing them from getting forward effectively.
The one thing Chivas has been missing all season is the finishing touch. I highly doubt the Rojiblancos have found it in the past ten days.