Chivas USA Fall Short in 2-1 SuperLiga Loss

New-look lineup still working to gel together

July 15 vs. Puebla Espinoza and Puebla

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Chivas USA’s four-game unbeaten streak came to a halt on Thursday evening when the Goats fell victims to a well-organized attack from Mexican First Division side Puebla FC in the opening game of the 2010 SuperLiga.

“We’re disappointed because we felt that we deserved better,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez after the game. “It’s a short tournament. It’s three games, and the goal was to get a good result. We’re really not happy with the second goal we gave up.”

The 2-1 defeat drops the Red-and-White to a dismal 1-4-2 record in SuperLiga play and puts them on the bottom of Group A alongside Mexican side Pachuca.

The Goats were on their heels for much of the evening, conceding in the 6th and 62nd minutes before finding a goal of their own in the 85th. Vásquez used the game as an opportunity to test out some of the club’s new signings, installing Paulo Nagamura, Giancarlo Maldonado and Rodolfo Espinoza into the staring lineup.

There's no denying that one of the Goats' highlights was Espinoza. The Mexican playmaker, who signed with the Red-and-White just a day before the match, was dangerous from the right flank all evening and earned his first assist for the team when he served a corner kick to Michael Umaña for the team's lone goal.

“[We have] positive thoughts on Espinoza,” said Vásquez. “He played for 93 minutes at a good pace. I think this weekend against Houston, and the next game against Pachuca, he’s going to get into a rhythm, find his match fitness and get into rhythm with our guys. That’s the most important thing.”

Maldonado and Nagamura were a slightly different story; it was evident that the two, in Vásquez's words, lacked rhythm.

“When [Maldonado] was fresh, he was moving and holding the ball, but we need to work on his rhythm, on his play and on his fitness," said the head coach. "These three games are going to help us to do that. Once we start playing our games in MLS, he’ll be almost there.”

The Venezuelan international joined Chivas USA on Thursday, July 8 after training with the team for two weeks. He played 76 minutes in his debut before subbing off for Osael Romero.

"[Maldonado's] a very technical player. He has the qualities of a goal-scorer. If he gets fit, then he’s going to help us and he’s going to be an impact player in the MLS," said Vásquez. "The only way he’s going to get match fit is playing games. We’re going to use these games to throw him in there and get rhythm. His mentality is solid [and] once he starts playing and gets fit, he’s going to show us his qualities.”

For his part, Nagamura looked comfortable in the center of the midfield, but lacked the quick step that was his trademark last year.

“Nagamura was solid, but he needs rhythm,” said Vásquez of the Brazilian, who had played with Chivas USA from 2007-2009 before resigning with the club on June 25. “He needs games. That’s not the Paulo that we all know. He ran out of gas because he was going forward, coming back, and fighting. I think that once he gets his rhythm, he’s going to be the same Nagamura that we know.”

Chivas USA will now travel to Robertson Stadium to take on Houston in the second game of the 2010 SuperLiga group stages. For the Goats' sake, they better hope that their three newest signings find their flow if the team is to have a shot at the semifinals.