CARSON, Calif. — It may be a new era for Chivas USA, but once again, the Rojiblancos came up short against their cross-hall rivals.
A Chad Barrett goal was the difference in a 1-0 loss that extended Chivas USA’s winless streak against the LA Galaxy to nine games while also giving the Galaxy their fourth straight regular-season victory in the SuperClásico.
For a team that has strived to become a possession-oriented side that controls the game and pressures their opponents into mistakes, Chivas USA saw their script flipped as the Galaxy executed a possession game of their own against the Rojiblancos. While the Goats were able to create opportunities in the second half, it was not enough for defender Heath Pearce.
“We bounced back well in the second half, but they gave us the room to play, which is a little too convenient in my opinion,” Pearce told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I think you got to earn the space that you play in and when they put us under pressure, they did a good job of putting the fear in our eyes and taking us away from our game.”
Paramount to the Rojiblancos’ success in the past month has been controlling the midfield and sending in swift passes into their forwards while preventing mistakes on defense. During that span, Chivas USA held a great deal of possession against some of the league’s finest midfields, such as the New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution, as well as Real Salt Lake prior to going down to nine men.
But against the Galaxy, the Goats were unable to put a stamp on the match and appeared much more the team that started the season winless in two matches than the side that had previously earned a result in six of seven straight games.
During the match, Chivas USA made a number of costly errors, getting caught flat-footed on Barrett’s header and also conceding several costly turnovers in midfield against the Galaxy’s pressure attack. In Chivas USA’s midfield, Simon Elliott and Nick LaBrocca struggled to get the ball into space, leaving Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno without service.
Following a match where the Rojiblancos were bested in their own style of play, head coach Robin Fraser was blunt in his assessment for improving after the loss in the SuperClásico.
“We need to possess the ball better and not turn it over as much,” said Fraser. “When you turn the ball over, then you put yourself in a lot of pressure, and a fair number of their dangerous opportunities in the first half came off our turnovers. We weren’t sharp enough with the ball and our lack of ability to possess was our own doing.”
The Rojiblancos will now look past the SuperClasico and continue on a difficult month of May that seen them play several of the league’s top teams with a trip to Columbus to face the Crew next weekend. For the Rojiblancos to close a difficult month on a high note, the team is aware that they must return to the style that made them successful.
“The first half was a little how we came out in the first couple games of the season,” said Pearce, “but we’ve come a long way since then and are better team since then. We’re a blue-collar, working team and we know what makes us successful.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano