CARSON, Calif. - Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia were brought on board and the Chivas USA offense was set to surge. And when "Paco" and "El Loquito" helped the team score five goals in two games, it looked like their offense had finally come together.
Then they played Columbus.
Palencia, Garcia and the rest of the attack were held scoreless and frustrated in the visiting Crew's 3-0 win last Saturday.
The message from training this week is simple, however: that was a one-off performance.
"A lot of people didn't look sharp in that game," Chivas forward Matt Taylor said. "You can just see in the give-and-goes and final passes. It really was not there, which is too bad for their homecoming. Maybe they were trying to push it in front of the home fans for the first time."
But the offensive problems were not the forwards' alone.
"A lot of people were having bad first touches and just not combining well," Taylor said. "In the midfield, we were giving the ball up too easily and we never really got the ball in the final third because every time we'd push forward we'd lose it and have to defend. We just couldn't complete five, six or seven passes and open them up. We'd get one or two and get in their defense and just give the ball back. They didn't really pressure too hard. We were just giving it to them."
Coming off 3-3 and 2-2 draws at the MetroStars and FC Dallas respectively, the offense did not appear to be as sharp as it had been. Palencia, though, said not to be quick to judge the attack based on goals alone.
"Goal totals are not a measure of how well the forwards played. The real measure of how well your attack was is how many times you get to your opponent's goal," Palencia said. "This last game against Columbus, we had scoring opportunities, but we just didn't finish."
Still, Chivas finished with just six total shots and had only two on goal. Columbus, meanwhile, had 13 total shots and peppered Chivas keeper Sergio "Matute" Garcia with eight shots.
The Crew employed the strategy most other teams use when playing Chivas; the sit-back-and-counter method.
"Columbus played a great game," Chivas forward Antonio Martinez said. "Even though it was a boring game, it was good for them because they sat back and used their speed on the flanks and we had no idea how to break them down."
Martinez said the club felt more comfortable in the previous two games because the MetroStars and FC Dallas both had to look for goals. Chivas held a 3-1 lead against the MetroStars and twice had single-goal leads on FC Dallas.
Saturday's opponent has yet to beat Chivas USA. San Jose tied the Red-and-White 3-3 in the second game of the season and were held 1-1 at The Home Depot Center. No matter how the Quakes come out, Chivas will be well-prepared, even if San Jose lets Chivas control possession and counter the expansion side.
"It's very frustrating especially because we work really hard during the week," Martinez said about the way most games have turned out. "We practice seven times a week. I think that's a record!" Martinez said.
Chivas USA boss Hans Westerhof runs difficult training sessions, Martinez said.
"They're very hard practices. We prepare very well for every game. We feel like we do a great job for most of the game and then we make one mental mistake or one bad pass out of the back and we find ourselves losing 1-0 or 2-0 and then it's really hard to battle back," Martinez said.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.