Moreno, Chivas see more positives than a point
It may have taken a road trip to do it, but Chivas USA are finally on the board.
After a week-long road trip spanning two matches in two different competitions and thousands of miles, Chivas USA earned what they so desperately desired—their first positive result under Robin Fraser.
Following three straight losses in all competitions, the Rojiblancos earned a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday at BMO Field. The Chivas USA goal came in the 2nd minute from Alejandro Moreno, and coach Robin Fraser saw the quick, positive start as a continuation of his side’s performance in the midweek loss to Portland in the US Open Cup.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Toronto FC 1, Chivas USA 1
“We came out of Portland feeling very positive, and today we had a lively and energetic start,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com after the draw in Toronto. “I would have liked to see more out of that start, but to get a goal is a good way to go, with our group, we’re good and aggressive in spurts, but we need to be more consistent over 90 minutes.”
Consistency is hard when the lineup is so in flux. A dizzying amount of injuries—Jimmy Conrad and Tristan Bowen were added to the scratch list—meant numerous changes in the starting XI. Heath Pearce moved to center back, Dan Kennedy started in goal, and Jorge Flores got his first start of the season after showing well against Portland.
Plus, Moreno was back from international duty. His return provided the biggest boost for the Goats as the Venezuelan international, who wore the captain’s armband, stabilized the attack and offered a constant option in transition. Playing in a 4-4-2 alongside Braun, Moreno held up the ball and won many of the physical battles against the big Toronto back line.
Moreno’s presence also seemed to revitalize Braun. With Moreno taking a great deal of the defensive attention, Braun enjoyed several great scoring chances, two of which, at least, he should’ve finished.
“Everyone in the attacking end is better when Alejandro is there,” said Fraser. “He helps us in terms of making decisions and helps them in terms of where they need to be and what they need to be doing. He’s a natural leader, who has played in a lot of situations.”
Energy did not appear solely to the attack. A concerted effort on defense, particularly from Nick LaBrocca and Michael Lahoud, applied continual pressure on the Reds midfield. And when that pressure was broken, the backline did just enough to hold Toronto at bay.
Perhaps the definitive moment in this respect came in the 60th minute, when TFC attacker Maicon Santos appeared certain to score the go-ahead goal for the Reds. A throughball beat the offside trap and sent the Brazilian in alone on Kennedy. Maicon Santos rounded the keeper, but just before he could side-foot the ball into the open net, Chivas USA’s Andrew Boyens arrived with a slide that threw the Toronto striker off. The miss ultimately saved a point for the Rojiblancos.
One point is a start. But Fraser’s roster is still riddled with injuries, forcing him to continue to tinker with his line-up.
“It’s almost comical [the number of injuries the team has suffered],” Fraser said. “But then again, I look at the group that is healthy, and there is no whining or crying about it even though there a lot of guys that played past 90 this week. We just keep persevering.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano