Chivas USA commitment to youth pays off

All three goal scorers against the Crew are players 23 and under

CARSON, Calif. – Two months ago, things were desperate for
Chivas USA.

The team hadn’t won a game in six matches and was sitting in
last place in the Western Conference by a five-point margin. The roster lacked
experience and the team looked disjointed on the field. Nothing was going the
Goats’ way.

Now, it seems all that has changed.


The Red-and-White are within two points of Houston in the
standings with at least a game in hand on four of their seven Western
Conference rivals. The roster has been fortified with veterans Paulo Nagamura,
Giancarlo Maldonado and Rodolfo Espinoza. The team has survived a stretch of
eight games in 28 days and
looks more fluid and dynamic than it ever has.

And with a 3-1 win over Eastern Conference leaders Columbus
at The Home Depot Center Saturday night, Chivas USA are on a four-game unbeaten streak and have earned a new lease on life. They’re not out of the
woods yet, but they seem to at least be heading in the right direction.

“This has been our biggest win this year,” said manager Martin Vásquez
after the match. “From the first minute until the 90th, we played well.
We scored some nice goals. We see some of our younger guys keep stepping up and
some of our new players helping. All around, it was a great result for us.”

The Goats scored three goals in a game for just the third
time this season, relying on Justin Braun, Blair Gavin and Carlos
Borja for the strikes. The trio’s success is characteristic of Chivas USA’s
commitment to its youth this season; Braun, Gavin, and Borja are just 23, 21,
and 22 years old respectively.

“Giving [our young players] confidence has been important,
and they’re responding,” Vásquez said. “We have a good group of young players that are very, very talented and we’re
going to continue to show confidence and keep playing them.”

Braun, specifically, has been on fire lately. The goal was
his seventh of the season, and will only fuel speculation that he could earn an
invitation to the United States National Team’s match against Brazil on August

“Over the past few weeks, Braun has stepped up on the field
and in the locker room,” Vásquez said. “He’s playing with confidence and
scoring goals. His performance was very good for us.”

At the other end of the pitch, the Red-and-White backline
was resolute in its effort against a Columbus side that has scored the
third-most goals in all of MLS. The Goats paid particular
attention to Crew playmaker and 2010 MLS All-Star Guillermo Barros Schelotto,
who managed to create very little under the close scrutiny of a swarming Chivas
USA defense lead by Man-of-the-Match Ben Zemanski.

“We’ve been playing some teams that have special players,” Vásquez said. “For us to have a chance to get a result, we need to close them
down. [Columbus] relies a lot on Schelotto with his passing and his creativity.
I thought we did a good job on him. Because of the position that Zemanski
plays, that was one of his responsibilities.”

Chivas USA will now prepare for a visit to Toronto’s
daunting BMO Field. But with seven points from their last three MLS matches,
the Goats are chomping at the bit to continue their momentum against former head coach Preki.

“This win shows that we’re starting to put everything
together and that we’re here to compete,” Gavin said. “We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and have come together as a