Chivas USA unbeaten streak broken by Puebla
Puebla FC started their SuperLiga 2010 campaign on the right foot Thursday evening, downing Chivas USA 2-1 at the Home Depot Center.
A second-half strike from Álvaro González turned out to be the game-winner as the Camoteros move into a tie for first place with Houston in Group A.
The loss is Chivas USA’s first in four games. The Red-and-White used the evening as chance to try out the club’s new signings, handing Paulo Nagamura, Giancarlo Maldonado and Rodolfo Espinoza their first starts of the year.
Puebla charged out of the gate early, enjoying long spells of quick passing that were largely orchestrated by pacey No. 10 Andrés Olivera. It was Olivera who finally broke the deadlock, threading a nice give-and-go with Edgar Lugo at the top of the Chivas USA box before hitting a low shot into the bottom right corner of Dan Kennedy’s net for a 1-0 lead in just the sixth minute.
The Goats began pushing back at the quarter-hour mark, but were unable to find a solid rhythm going forward. Nagamura and Maldonado seemed a bit out of sync with their new teammates, while right midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza had particular trouble linking up with right-back Mariano Trujillo.
The best chance for Chivas USA came by way of recent World Cup returnee Jonathan Bornstein. The Red-and-White captain, who was slotted into the left midfield position for Thursday evening’s contest, raced forward along the left flank and was fed a good ball into space by left-back Ante Jazic. Bornstein collected the pass and drilled a low shot across the mouth of the net that just missed the far post and went out for a Puebla goal kick.
The second half began just as the first had, with the Camoteros in firm control of the tempo of the game. Chivas USA struggled to keep up with a Puebla side that employed swarming midfield play and plenty of quick runs from the strikers to always stay a step ahead.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 62nd minute. Gabriel Pereyra started the play, finding Alejandro Acosta wide on the right flank with a clever pass. Acosta sent a low ball across the Red-and-White 6-yard line to Puebla substitute striker González, who one-touched past Kennedy into the left side of the net for 2-0.
Much of Chivas USA’s second-half offense was driven by Jesus Padilla, who had replaced Nagamura at halftime. Padilla's fresh legs caused a number of problems for the Puebla defense. He came closest to scoring in the 75th minute when he blasted a Howitzer from 25 yards out that just skimmed over the top of the Camoteros’ crossbar.
The Goats finally pulled one back in the 85th minute thanks to a well-taken corner kick. Newcomer Espinoza sent the ball into the box and found Michael Umana, who buried a strong header past Puebla goalkeeper Alexandro Álvarez from the 6-yard line.
The home team pushed hard for an equalizer in the final minutes, but were unable to break through a resolute Puebla defense.
Both Chivas USA and Pueblo will now travel to Robertson Stadium in Texas on July 18. Chivas will battle MLS foe Houston, while Puebla will face fellow Mexican First Division side Pachuca.