CARSON, Calif. – The last time they took the field, Chivas USA lost out on a historic opportunity in dropping a US Open Cup semifinal to Seattle.
While the opportunity to win that trophy was gone, the chance for redemption came quickly. And the players made sure to seize that chance.
Chivas beat Portland 1-0 at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday and ran their league unbeaten streak to a modest four games. More importantly, they gained three valuable points in what is a tumultuous and tight Western Conference table and showed a bit of character in doing so.
“We were really disappointed from our result in Seattle and a lot of times when you have that kind of feeling, you have something to prove,” Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “And that’s what we did.”
Chivas moved to 23 points in the table, four clear of the Timbers and will look to continue their climb up the table in Saturday’s SuperClasico against the LA Galaxy (10 pm ET, Telefutura). The team are hoping that these three points will jolt a boost of confidence heading into that match.
The GOats knew that in order to put themselves in a position to grab full points, a strong start was imperative, and the team responded well.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHV 1, POR 0
“The first half was one of the better halves of soccer we’ve played in a while,” defender Danny Califf said. “Certainly in the first half we were dangerous – we pushed the tempo, had most of the possession and it was really good to see.”
Portland – the worst road team in MLS – nevertheless had much to prove. After firing head coach John Spencer and losing 5-3 last weekend at home to LA, the Timbers came in with much to gain from this match. Chivas, though, did well to control the pace of the game, particularly after going up 1-0 in the 16th minute.
“That was one of our goals – to come out and score early,” Kennedy said. “We accomplished that. From there we were able to dictate the tempo of the game.”
On the play that led to the game’s only goal, Ryan Smith broke down the Timbers’ left side of defense, first getting past Steven Smith, then slipping by Mamadou “Futty” Danso before firing a shot on goal. Portland’s Troy Perkins dove but only got a piece of the ball before Miller Bolaños (above) cleaned it up and buried the ball into the back of the net.
“I did a good piece of play but at the end of the day if that save goes out and Miller’s not there, you don’t score,” Smith said. “You have to congratulate Miller for being at the right place at the right time.”
The goal allowed the Rojiblancos to control the rest of the half and while another goal did not fall, the club certainly felt in a rhythm and were in control, a positive sign for a team that has scored 12 goals in 18 games.
“We did a good job of managing the tempo of the game I thought,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser said. “At times we possessed well but when we found moments to be dangerous we were, if not dangerous we were pretty close to being dangerous. It was good to see us play with that sort of rhythm.”
Still, while the club had some nervy moments at the end and were unable to add a second goal despite creating opportunities to do so, the club now will head into Saturday’s SuperClasico with some momentum.
“We could have scored a few goals,” Smith said. “It didn’t happen but we got the win and we kept a clean sheet but it’s going to give us great confidence going forward. Anybody would take a 1-0 win. It was a good victory.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.