CARSON, Calif. — Marcos Mondaini has undergone a difficult month, sitting on the sidelines for many of Chivas USA’s finest moments this season, unable to help his squad while dealing with a great deal of personal turmoil.
Mondaini returned to the Chivas USA lineup after missing four matches due to suspension for his reckless tackle of Javier Morales on May 7. In his return, the Argentine attacker earned his small slice of redemption, scoring the lone goal in the Rojiblancos’ 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers.
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After scoring the goal, Mondaini was visibly emotional, clearly breaking down as he celebrated with his teammates following his game-winning strike. It was truly a sliver of joy after a great deal of hardship.
“Physically I felt very good, but I was tired in the last minutes and I think that being out for four games started to affect me,” Mondaini said. “But I’m very grateful to score and to give the team a win. I don’t know how to call these last few weeks. I haven’t lived through something like that before. But those things happen to you in life, and thankfully I was able to recover.”
Mondaini was a constant threat in tandem with forward Justin Braun. The energetic play was a stark contrast to Chivas USA’s offensive struggles during the midweek match against Vancouver. As a motivated Rojiblancos side pushed forward against the Timbers, Mondaini provided the spark up front by creating several chances that tested the Timbers defense.
Following the match, Chivas head coach Robin Fraser was full of praise for Mondaini.
“Marcos was very good from his first touch of the game, he got around guys and was getting into dangerous positions,” said Fraser. “In spite of the incident that happened between him and Javier, Marcos is a wonderful person and feels responsible because he feels like he’s let the team down. The fact is that he came back with this attitude that he wanted to help the team, and I thought he was very good.”
During his suspension, the soft-spoken Mondaini was a constant presence at the Chivas USA training grounds. He maintained his fitness so that he could step on the field and make an immediate impact.
After dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of his suspension and his subsequent goal, Mondaini admitted that there was one man on his mind through this entire trying ordeal: Javier Morales.
“I don’t like to hear a lot of what the media says,” said Mondaini after the match. “I talked to my family a lot and I spoke to Javier Morales, which was something that was very important, and I know that I’m always going to be very grateful to him.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano