CARSON, Calif. – The blueprint was there for Chivas USA, but the lack of execution had head coach Wilmer Cabrera searching for yet another solution Wednesday night following a 2-0 loss to the visiting Portland Timbers.
Six weeks after seeing his side battle to a 1-1 draw in Portland, Cabrera had similar plans for the teams’ second meeting of the year. He wanted the Rojiblancos to lock down on defense by retaining possession, as they had at Providence Park in mid April. That objective required crisp passing and better movement -- two things the Goats were unable to replicate again following a 10-day hiatus from league play.
“We weren’t careful with the ball,” Cabrera told reporters in his postgame press conference. “We were losing the ball too easily, so when we went in [at halftime] we talked about being more calm, secure and comfortable with the ball. We were losing those [opportunities] and having too many turnovers.”
Chivas USA lost their fourth straight home game, having been outscored 11-2 at StubHub Center in that span. For the players, the latest loss was even more agonizing given how well they had performed against these same Timbers in a more challenging environment earlier this season.
“We moved a bit in our lines, gave them more space and they hurt us,” midfielder Mauro Rosales told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s not what we wanted. Chasing from behind is obviously more difficult. We needed to be more organized, but we weren’t great on the ball, so it didn’t work out.”
Their first-half passing accuracy of 68 percent -- and 74 percent for the game -- just didn’t cut it, even if there was some gradual improvement. The Timbers were well over 80 percent in that same category both halves, with the highlights being two brilliant feeds from Jorge Villafaña and Diego Valeri to MLS newcomer Fanendo Adi.
The Goats didn’t record their first on-target shot until the 94th minute when a free kick from Erick “Cubo” Torres was punched away by a diving Donovan Ricketts. The blueprint had been crumpled long before that, though.
“Ideally, we would like to come out and play a bit more, but we were having a hard time in the first half getting on the ball and keeping possession,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told reporters. “When we did, we created the best chance of the first half. We went out in the second half trying to build on that good tactical shape we had and be better on the ball. We were, but unfortunately they made two plays and punished us.”