CARSON, Calif. -- Chivas USA’s 1-0 Open Cup win against USL-2 side Austin Aztex on Tuesday evening may not have been spectacular, but it didn’t need to be. Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium, the Goats were able to do something they hadn’t done since May 5th; take an early lead and hold on to it.
The win is an important pick-me-up ahead of a clash against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, a game from which Chivas USA desperately need three points.
“This win helps our confidence,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. “The effort was there. We were disciplined and we created opportunities. This win comes a few days before we play Philly and I think it will give our guys a positive attitude for [that] game.”
Chivas USA started strong on Tuesday, registering two good shots on goal within the first eight minutes of the game. The team finally went ahead in the 12th thanks to a low strike from Jesus Padilla.
“We played really well in the first half in terms of winning balls and fighting and controlling the tempo of game,” said striker Chukwudi Chijindu. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Austin pushed back in the second half, controlling much of the tempo of the game as they looked for an equalizer, but Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton was strong between the sticks and made a few good saves to keep the clean sheet.
“We were against the run of play for the most part in the second half,” said Chijindu, "but we did things we weren’t able to do in some of the MLS games, which was continue to defend hard and come out with a victory. That’s important going forward.”
Chijindu, who has been primarily used as a sub this season, was given a place in the starting XI on Tuesday along with young Colombian center back Yamith Cuesta. Gerson Mayen also saw some minutes for the first time in more than a month.
“We’re going to have a busy calendar and it’s good that those new faces stepped up,” said Vásquez. “If one of our starters goes down, we can count on those younger guys.”
Chivas USA will now prepare for the club’s first-ever game against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, July 3rd. But with the taste of victory fresh in their mouths, the Goats are ready to get back on track in MLS play.
“This is a great win in the Open Cup, but we all know that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Chijindu. “If we can continue this form on Saturday -- score some goals and be able to defend well -- I think we’ll get out of this [slump] sooner rather than later.”