Robin Fraser promised all week that his Chivas USA offense would break out of its attacking doldrums with an aggressive mindset against the Portland Timbers.
On Saturday night, his side returned its end of the bargain as Chivas USA earned their second victory of the season in a 2-1 comeback victory in the hostile grounds of JELD-WEN Field.
HIGHLIGHTS: Portland 1, Chivas USA 2
It was a heartening result, especially considering that the first half looked familiar, as a defensive miscue and poor finishing put the Rojiblancos down a goal early. But in the second half, rather than fold, Fraser’s club ramped up the pressure and broke through with goals from Alejandro Moreno and Nick LaBrocca to seal the victory.
“From the second half at the very beginning, we came out and put our stamp on the game,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com after the victory, “and in the second half, the execution was so much better. Our confidence grew and, as a result, we were able to put them on their heels.”
One of the main reasons for Chivas USA’s second-half renaissance was the insertion of Ryan Smith for midfielder Blair Gavin in the 46th minute of play. The swift winger needed just two minutes to make an impact as he whipped in a cross that Moreno easily headed in for the equalizer. Moreno’s tying goal appeared to immediately light a fire under a previously stagnant Chivas defense as the Rojiblancos began to control the pace of play and consistently challenge the Timbers defense.
And in the 82nd minute, the relentless pressure paid off. The winning sequence began as goalkeeper Dan Kennedy played the ball forward to a defender Ante Jazic and ended – five Chivas touches later –with LaBrocca nodding home a cross from Smith. For a team that has pledged to build a cogent attack through short and effective passes, the sequence was just the type of play that Fraser has been looking for.
“Without a doubt, we like goals in any way that we can get them,” the coach said, “but certainly, if you can through good and efficient movement and passing get yourself into good goal coring opportunities, then you really can’t ask for any more than that.”
Now, after a dominant offensive finish that ended in a win, Chivas’ next challenge is to string together multiple victories, something the team has failed to accomplish this season. But for a club that has spent much of that time searching for an identity, the win over Portland was certainly a step in the right direction.
“The guys were saying that last year, this would have been a game that we’d lose normally,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com, “and we won today and everyone should be proud of themselves. We needed this big-time, and we delivered.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.