3 things learned from Chivas USA's defeat of SJ
In a gutsy showing, Chivas USA earned their first victory on the road, coming back from an early deficit to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night.
With just one win, the Goats catapulted themselves from the bottom of MLS to around mid-table. Now undefeated in their last four matches, they'll look for a positive result at home to build further momentum.
Here are the three things we learned from last weekend’s victory:
Zarek Valentin belongs at right back
The rookie defender (pictured above) has spent a great deal of time playing center back for Chivas USA, but a confident performance against San Jose may have locked down the right back position. Starting in place of the injured Michael Lahoud, Valentin put in a confident performance against the Quakes attack.
To add to his performance on defense, Valentin also provided support on the attack making a key pass to Justin Braun that helped lead to the game-winning goal. With Jimmy Conrad nearly ready to return from a concussion and Heath Pearce looking composed at center back, it is likely that Valentin may need to look to the right back spot to earn playing time.
Energy and grit are vital to this team’s success
Perhaps borrowing a page out of the San Jose playbook from last season, the Goats were routinely able force mistakes and then capitalize on them. Throughout the match, Chivas USA were able to continually control the game by outfighting the Quakes midfield for possession.
The finest example of the grit, though, was on the second goal, when a well-timed run by Mariano Trujillo allowed the defender to put in the rebound off Braun’s shot in the 85th minute. For Chivas USA to begin to string together more victories, the Rojiblancos must continue to outwork teams around the field and remain a difficult team to play against.
The Justin Braun on the wing experiment may be over
After spending his entire season on the flanks, second-half substitute Braun lined up at forward and made an immediate impact. He made several dangerous runs past Earthquakes defenders that helped Chivas USA regain momentum in a match that looked to be turning in favor of San Jose.
Braun’s finest run came on the game-winner, when he beat two San Jose defenders and fired the shot that Trujillo put back in off the rebound. Following the match, when head coach Robin Fraser was asked where Braun’s best position was, he stated it was likely up top. With that energetic performance from Braun, it looks like Fraser may have finally found the influential forward for whom he has been looking.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano