CARSON, Calif. -- And then there were six.
Chivas USA extended its now club-record losing streak to an even half-dozen on Saturday evening, falling to visiting FC Dallas thanks to a 59th minute penalty kick. The PK goal is just one more instance in a string of hiccups in concentration that has become the bane of the first half of the Goats’ 2010 season.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Over the course of the last six matches, Chivas USA have conceded two game-winning goals in the final five minutes of play, given away two game-winning penalty kicks (one of which was also in the final five minutes of play), and have held any kind of a lead for a total of 11 minutes out of 540.
“The way we’re conceding goals is the most shocking thing,” said defender Ante Jazic after the match. “How many games have we lost in the last minutes? It’s just comes down to concentration and focus. The coach gives us tactics, we know the gameplan, we know which guys are dangerous from the other teams, but we have to execute. And we’re not executing.
“We have to know how to win as a team, close games out as a team, and play for a draw if we have to as a team,” he continued. “Right now, sometimes we start playing as individuals, lose our shape and concede bad goals.”
Saturday’s match against Dallas was Chivas USA’s first after a two week hiatus from league play because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The team looked rusty in the first half, but was able to find a bit of chemistry in the second.
“It was better in the second half, but the goals we’re giving up is what’s killing us,” said head coach Martín Vásquez. “We have to play with more determination from the first minute; with more desire, more life, and more pride to get ourselves out of this hole that we’re in.”
The game was also the Goats’ first since the transfer of team captain Sacha Kljestan to Belgian side RSC Anderlecht. Stepping up to fill his shoes on Saturday was Salvadoran midfielder Osael Romero, who scored the team’s lone goal on a beautiful header past Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
“I thought Osael gave us what we asked of him,” said Vásquez. “He’s a creative player; he will create chances for us in the attacking half and I thought he did well tonight.”
The Goats will get a boost from the return of midfielder Paulo Nagamura, who resigned with Chivas USA on Friday after a short stint with Mexican First Division side Tigres UANL. Nagamura will be eligible to play after the July 15th transfer window opens and should help to stabilize a very young Red-and-White midfield.
There’s also the possibility that prolific Venezuelan striker Giancarlo Maldonado may be wearing red and white stripes sometime in the near future. The former Atlante attacker has been training with Chivas USA and Vásquez has declared his team’s interest in the 27-year-old.
The additions of Maldonado and Nagamura, plus a continued positive attitude and willingness to stay focused, may be just what Chivas USA need to finally get back on track in 2010.
But only time will tell.
“It comes down to hard work,” said midfielder Blair Gavin. “You can easily put your head down, but that shows bad character. You need to just keep your head up and keep working with each other, believing in each other and fighting together.”
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