CARSON, Calif. – In four matches this season, Chivas USA have shown that they can battle with some of the league’s top teams. But scoring goals against those sides has proven to be a different matter entirely.
A week after a gutty effort delivered a big win at Real Salt Lake, the pendulum swung the other way on Sunday night as Sporting Kansas City sent Chivas to their third loss of the season, 1-0 at The Home Depot Center.
After controlling the match for much of the first half, the Rojiblancos came out flat to start the second half as C.J. Sapong scored in the 47th minute to render an otherwise solid defensive performance moot. With four consecutive solid defensive showings and just one win – and one goal – to show for it, head coach Robin Fraser admits that he is concerned by his side’s recent form in front of net.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chivas USA 0, Sporting KC 1
“The group has defended pretty solidly,” Fraser told reporters after the match. “[Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy] has done a good job, the defenders have done a good job for the most part so far, but to win games, we have to create more chances. There is no question.”
Apart from the goal, the Rojiblancos dominated wide stretches of the match by controlling possession against a talented and unbeaten Sporting side, but were routinely unable to concert that possession into chances.
Chivas’ best opportunity didn’t come until the 54th minute when Nick LaBrocca found space behind the Sporting defense after a pass by Laurent Courtois. But despite having a one-on-one with Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, LaBrocca’s shot bounced off the left post.
No stat was more telling than Chivas USA’s shot total as the hosts registered just six shots – all off target and all in the second half.
“We’re not creating enough chances and the ones that we do create, we’re not taking advantage of,” forward Alejandro Moreno told reporters. “It’s difficult to win games when you’re not as dynamic as we’d like to be going forward.
“There are times when there are spaces to be exploited, and we’re just not taking advantage of them. It’s disappointing for us, because our thoughts were to validate the things that we did last week against Salt Lake.”
Although Chivas put in another solid performance against a top-tier opponent, defender Heath Pearce declared that simply performing well isn’t good enough – his team needs to win.
“We’ve been saying it for a while that we have bright moments,” he said, “but at the end of the day, bright moments aren’t enough if we’re not scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. I feel like we make it really difficult on ourselves, every single game. We’ve played three games at home and had three losses. We need to improve a lot.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.