Chivas fail to hold on again in penultimate game
Chivas USA’s impressive six-game unbeaten streak against the San Jose Earthquakes came to an end on Wednesday evening as a hat trick from in-form striker Chris Wondolowski handed the Quakes a 3-0 win at Buck Shaw Stadium. The loss is the Goats’ fifth in their last six matches.
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In many ways, Wednesday evening’s game was a microcosm of Chivas USA’s 2010 season. The team started out well enough but eventually fell to short lapses in judgment and wasn’t able to climb back out of the hole. It’s a frustrating pattern for head coach Martín Vásquez.
“The result hurts,” he admitted after the game. “It’s something that happens to a team that gets hit by losing some experienced players. There have been inconsistencies, but there are also a lot of pluses because we’re a young group. I felt that we were playing against a good team and we were doing well. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold on to at least a point.”
The Red-and-White held the Earthquakes scoreless through the first 45 minutes before conceding a penalty-kick goal in the 55th minute. Michael Umana was the culprit, hauling Chris Wondolowski down on the 6-yard line.
“We got a little caught off guard on the first goal we gave up,” said Vásquez. “Michael was a little bit too anxious to win the ball and all of a sudden he holds Wondolowski and we give up a PK.”
Wondolowski struck twice more before the final whistle, in the 59th and 72nd minutes, to seal the deal for the playoff-bound Earthquakes.
“The second goal slipped right underneath [me] and I was a little upset about that because I’m better on that one,” said Chivas USA goalkeeper Kevin Guppy. “Third goal, it was just tough to save that.”
Wednesday evening was Guppy’s first official MLS start. The league pool ‘keeper has been training with Chivas USA since usual backup Dan Kennedy went down with a biceps injury and was rewarded for his hard work with his debut starting nod.
“I was excited at first obviously,” he said. “Nerves were running a little bit but I think that’s normal. Soon as the whistle blew, I settled down and did what I’ve been working on and what I know I’m capable of. As the game progressed, I settled in more and it just came naturally.”
Guppy did well to maintain some consistency in a Chivas USA defensive corps that was twice force to adjust to injury. Starting center backs Umaña and Yamith Cuesta were both subbed out of the game with injuries and had to be replaced on the fly.
“The result hurts because it’s another loss,” said Vásquez, “but right now what hurts more is losing two guys to injuries.”
The Goats will now turn their attention to Saturday’s match against the Chicago Fire – their last of the 2010 season. The game will be team captain Jonathan Bornstein’s final appearance in a Chivas USA jersey before he moves south of the border to play with Mexican First Division side Tigres UANL.
Needless to say, neither he nor the rest of his teammates need any extra motivation to get a result at home this weekend.
“It’s our last game of the season, last game at home,” Bornstein said. “For me, it’s my last game as a Chivas USA player and I definitely want it to be a good one and end it on a good note. I think overall the team just has to perform better, defend more as a unit and kind of go from there. Most of all – show our fans a good send-off for the season and get the W.”