The tiny field at Robertson Stadium continued to confound Chivas USA as the Rojiblancos surrendered yet another lead en route to a disappointing 2-1 loss against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
For the second match in three games, Chivas USA failed to hold a lead after conceding two goals following Marcos Mondaini’s opener. While playing with an advantage leads to struggles for Chivas USA, it was the Dynamo’s set pieces that created the most concern.
“Unfortunately, we couldn't hold the score, and we leave very sad because we let the game go. Our job is to play football on the field, especially our style of football,” said Mondaini after the match. “Sometimes players just don’t have a good day or the rival is stronger on the field, and they were able to gain the advantage through set pieces.”
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Houston 2, Chivas USA 1
Much had been made of the heat in Houston In the lead up to the match, but relatively cool temperatures in Houston -- which were 89 degrees at game time -- had little effect on the team.
The set pieces of the Dynamo were a very different story. Chivas USA flew out of the gates and were able to get on the board early off Mondaini’s strike just seven minutes into the match -- making it the first Rojiblancos' goal at Houston in five years.
After the goal, however, Houston quickly pressured the Rojiblancos by dominating the possession battle and forcing Chivas USA into set piece opportunities. The Goats conceded their lead in the 28th minute of play by way of a Geoff Cameron header that culminated from a Brad Davis free kick.
Houston's set piece opportunities frustrated Chivas USA throughout the night as the team repeatedly allowed the Dynamo to get chances on net. The Goats defense appeared complacent on a number of dead ball situations, which came to a head as Davis’ corner in the 54th minute ricocheted off defender Heath Pearce for an own goal.
Following the match, Chivas head coach Robin Fraser was blunt regarding whether the Rojiblancos lacked the ability to control possession against the Dynamo.
“A big part of it is controlling the game with the ball,” said Fraser. "I thought that at times we did quite well with that and at times, with too many stretched, we didn’t do quite well with that. We weren’t as good in execution as we needed to be, which led to turnovers, which led to opportunities for them, which led to corner kicks and free kicks.”
The defeat was the seventh for the Goats at Houston and increases the Dynamo domination over the Rojiblancos.. With the result, Houston maintains an overall home-field advantage over the Goats at 7-0-2 while scoring 18 goals all-time compared to two for Chivas USA.
With the loss, the Rojiblancos will remain at 17 points as they prepare to face off against FC Dallas at Home Depot Center on Saturday, June 18. To return to their winning ways at home, Chivas USA will need to show the initiative that was sorely lacking at Robertson Stadium.
“When we decided to play, we were quite good, and we were able to play through them, which was a difficult thing to do here with this team and the kind of pressure they put on,” Fraser told reporters after the match. “I thought that at times when we played confidently, we were able to possess our way pretty well up the field.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano