Vásquez: With Houston, You Can't Be Flat

Conceding early goals burns Chivas USA coach

During the 2009 season, Chivas USA conceded goals in the first 20 minutes of a match only once. It happened at Colorado on August 9th, when the Rapids netted in the first and fourth minutes of the game for an eventual 4-0 victory.

This year, it’s a different story. The Goats have already conceded early goals in three of their first eight matches, including two against Houston on Saturday evening.

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“We came out flat and they took advantage,” Chivas head coach Martín Vásquez said after Saturday’s contest. “Playing against a team like Houston, you cannot come out flat.”

The Dynamo charged out of the gate, scoring through Brad Davis in the 4th minute and Adrian Serioux in the 8th minute. Chivas pushed back over the course of the ensuing 80 minutes, but were unable to produce any goals of their own.

“It’s a tough hole to get ourselves into,” said captain Sacha Kljestan. “Before the game even starts, we’re down a goal. It was very difficult to come back. After that, they dropped ten guys behind the ball and did a good job shutting us down.”

The Goats showed more spine in the second half, pushing forward with numbers. But Houston, led by center backs Serioux and Bobby Boswell, were resolute.

“The second half, we kept a lot of the possession, we created plays, but we couldn’t tie the game,” Vásquez said. “I’m disappointed because we were feeling good about ourselves.”

The Goats had a busy week leading up the Houston game. They played away at Chicago last Saturday, then flew to Boston to battle the New England Revolution on Wednesday before returning home to Los Angeles on Thursday. But Vásquez refused to blame the schedule for the slow start.

In fact, Vásquez rejected most of the usual excuses, including the relative lack of experience due to the absence of two of the team’s more veteran players, Maykel Galindo and Ante Jazic.

“Yes, it will help us to have experienced players because they know how to play against teams like Houston,” said Vásquez. “But . . . I don’t think inexperience is why we lost the game.”

Chivas next go on the road to face the undefeated Columbus Crew. The Crew are loaded with firepower that can find the holes in the Chivas defense. But, Vásquez said, results are sometimes as black and white as the difference between scoring the first goal or not.

“In the games that we’ve lost, we’ve had to chase the game,” he said. “In the games that we’ve gone up, we’ve been able to do well.”