Chivas prove they are no longer pushovers
In the days leading up to Chivas USA’s game against the
Chicago Fire, many fans were likely preparing for the worst.
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The Red-and-White had been abysmal against the league’s toughest
teams, going 1-7-1 last year against the four clubs that finished in the top
two of their conference.
Having already registered bad losses to Los Angeles and Houston in 2010,
there was reason to believe the Goats were destined for another season of
disappointment against MLS powerhouses.
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But there was a moment in the 27th minute that could
be considered a turning point.
Chivas USA midfielder Ben Zemanski held the ball in the
center circle when U.S. National Team legend and Chicago captain Brian McBride
swooped in to strip the Red-and-White rookie of possession. For a brief moment,
the 21-year-old Zemanski looked outclassed and overmatched by McBride, who is
18 years his senior.
But then Zemanski snapped out of his fleeting stupor and did
something that surely did not go unnoticed by the rest of his Chivas USA
teammates. He fouled McBride. Hard.
In that single moment, Zemanski reintroduced an attitude to
Chivas USA that had long been missing from the Goats in big games. They were
not going to be pushed around again.
From that episode, Chivas USA began fighting back against
the Fire instead of rolling over. The Red-and-White controlled most of the
remaining minutes of the first half, and entered the locker room with a renewed
Coming out for the second 45 minutes, the Goats looked
confident in their attack and secure in the back. Team captain Sacha Kljestan
marshaled his midfield troops with self-assurance and Mariano Trujillo was once
again dangerous from the right-back position.
Chivas USA conceded a goal in the 52nd minute of play,
but rather than lay down, as they have done so many times before against more
established clubs, they rallied.
Striker Maicon Santos headed the ball past Fire ‘keeper
Andrew Dykstra to equalize and put the Red-and-White right back in the game in
the 76th minute.
The final fifteen minutes proved tense, but Chivas USA’s obvious
confidence allayed any fears of a repeat of the May 28 match from
last season. In that game, Chicago scored two goals in the final two minutes of
play to secure a 3-2 win.
When the final whistle blew, the Goats had secured their
first road points of 2010 and, perhaps more importantly, had proven to
themselves that they could hang with the big boys.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it didn’t need to be. It was a
good result on the road against a tough team, something the Red-and-White struggled
to find in recent years.
now heads to New England for a midweek game on Wednesday before heading back to
Los Angeles to
host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.