Road weight lifted for Chivas USA
COLUMBUS - It took Chivas USA two tries to get their first goal, six attempts to get their first win, and 15 cracks to get their first road win.
Chivas finally overcame their road woes with a 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening, and the club is just happy it came during their first MLS season as only one road match remains on the their campaign.
The win, also the first in which they were leading at the break, gives Chivas hope for a strong finish to their inaugural season.
"Our first win in an away game will give us confidence," said coach Hans Westerhof.
He also believes that the win symbolizes the future Chivas has in MLS.
"We are very satisfied," said Westerhof. "It's important for us to win the last three games. We showed that we can be a good team in MLS. Until now, it was not easy for us. There were a lot of problems."
In making Francisco Palencia's 59th-minute tally stand, Chivas avoided a typically porous time for their defense.
Of the 62 goals Chivas has allowed on the season, 32 have come after the 60th minute. Many of those goals have permitted opponents to steal points at the end of a match. Westerhof thinks that luck has finally swung in his favor after long season.
"We did not play so well in this game. I think it was also the first time when we were lucky most of the time," said Westerhof. "The luckiest one was always the opponent up to this point in the season."
Even without suspended center back Douglas Sequeira, the Chivas defense did enough to keep the home side off the scoresheet.
"One of the things you need in a game is good organization and defense," said Westerhof "It is not so easy when you have to change every time."
Ezra Hendrickson, one of the few MLS defenders known more for his offensive prowess, more than adequately filled in for Sequeira.
"It was basically my job to organize the defense, and to play well defensively when I got called on," Hendrickson said. "There were times when I had to step up and make a play. I am one of the leaders on this team, and that is what is going to happen, game-in and game-out. I am going to have to step and do my thing, teach the younger guys.
"I had experienced guys in front of me (Orlando Perez and Esteban Arias). We were together in the back, and we were not able to do that much all year. ... It was a game where we were hurting from injuries, and we were called upon to improvise. If that's what we have to do to win, that's what we are going to do. And we were lucky enough to get the result today."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.