SAN DIEGO — It’s not often a younger sibling gets to top their older one, but when it happens, younger sibling feels pretty good about the feat.
That’s exactly how Chivas USA felt after their narrow win over big brother Chivas de Guadalajara, whom they defeated 4-2 in a penalty-kick shootout after going scoreless in regulation on Tuesday night.
“[I’m] very pleased with the performance of my team, I’m very happy with the result,” Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez said in a press conference after the game. “I thought the result was fair.”
What’s not so pleasing, however, is the amount of opportunities on goal that Chivas USA failed to convert. Had the Goats been able to find the net, they would have won the ChivaClásico Trophy without resorting to the nerve-wracking shootout.
“Our fault [on Tuesday night] was not to finish clear chances, and we’ve lost many games in the 89th and 90th minutes because of that,” Vásquez said, referring to the team's many narrow losses in MLS. “It would’ve been an easier game if we would’ve put away one or two chances.”
The coach speaks nothing but the truth. The Goats galloped out the gates and threatened early and often, missing three chances in the first 10 minutes, including one from forward Justin Braun.
But after Chivas USA’s early onslaught, Guadalajara took over and began to display their trademark passing game, controlling the rest of the half and giving the impression that it would only be a matter of time before they broke through.
For the complementary period, Chivas USA made some adjustments that allowed them to reverse roles with Guadalajara, limiting el Rebaño Sagrado’s time on the ball and controlling it themselves.
“[Vásquez said to] keep going forward and [put Guadalajara] under pressure,” Braun said. “I think that was the key, that we didn’t let them have time to move the ball, always forcing them to make quick decisions.”
With commanding control of the game in the second half, Chivas USA created a bevy of chances. However, the team continued to suffer as it was unable to capitalize on all those opportunities, especially Braun.
The forward added two more failed attempts from close that he should've scored, bringing his total count of key misses in the game to four.
“The ball wouldn’t go in for me,” Braun said. “I was a little frustrated that it wouldn’t go in, but it was just one of those nights.”
But the misses don’t worry the coach too much. In fact, what would worry him, he says, is if they didn’t create the chances in the first place.
“It would worry me if we didn’t create any chances,” Vásquez said. “Of course, we have to keep working on finishing, being more efficient, but I would be worried if we didn’t create these clear opportunities.”
Nevertheless, the win over a big team like Guadalajara gives the team a good dose of confidence as they head into a crucial Sunday clash at home against the Kansas City Wizards.
"[Guadalajara] is of the biggest clubs in the world and they have a lot of quality players," Braun said. "To know you can go up and play against that type of player always gives you confidence."