In the brutal heat of Pizza Hut Park, Chivas USA’s five-game unbeaten streak was left in cinders by a red-hot FC Dallas on Sunday.
The Rojiblancos fell 1-0 to FCD in a match where temperatures at kick off were at 102 degrees and were significantly warmer on the pitch itself.
Dallas took advantage of a host of early opportunities and took the lead when a shot by winger Marvin Chávez deflected off ex-teammate Heath Pearce and into the back of the net. Chivas USA continually struggled to press forward as the home team controlled possession and forced Rojiblancos attackers off the ball.
Although Dallas were fresh off an extended layover in El Salvador after CONCACAF Champions League play, it was the Rojiblancos who appeared spent. Still, the Goats were firm that the heat had no affect on the result.
“No one had an advantage in this type of heat,” Pearce told MLSsoccer.com, “but our turnovers and our lack of sharpness possession-wise and attacking-wise is what compounded into everyone getting tired, the field starting to get big, and us not doing what we needed to get a result.”
Chivas USA entered “The Oven” in Frisco, Texas, with the same five-man midfield diamond formation that was able to produce three goals the week before against the Houston Dynamo. However, against the speed and pressure of FC Dallas, the Rojiblancos found themselves unable to hold possession. Too frequently Goats midfielders made costly turnovers that allowed Dallas attackers like Brek Shea and Ruben Luna to press towards Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy’s net.
Only a match after scoring a hat trick, forward Justin Braun struggled to get chances and test a talented Dallas back four. When the Rojiblancos were able to get into an advanced position, they were unable to find the final touch, with several crosses going wide.
“If we were sharp enough with the ball,” head coach Robin Fraser stated after the match, “then we have done more and it may have changed the complexion of the game completely. But it wasn't to be. As a result, we had a tough time building up any kind of a rhythm.”
Chivas USA will look to rebound from the performance next week when they travel to New England for their second of five straight games on the road. For a team that has shown an ability to bounce back, the match against the Revolution will represent a significant test.
However, before Chivas USA can look ahead, they must first put an unfortunate result in Pizza Hut Park behind them.
“We didn't lose to them, we lost to ourselves today,” said Pearce. “That's been the case a few times this year. I don't think that there is any team in the league that can beat us on a good day, but sometimes that's just an excuse to why you lost.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano