Before an opportunistic Erick “Cubo” Torres scored the game-winner to give Chivas USA consecutive victories for the first time this year, the blueprint had been laid out.
Fresh off their first shutout of the season, the Rojiblancos looked particularly sturdy and entirely confident on defense. And despite three alterations to last week’s starting lineup, they didn’t skip a beat, keeping another clean sheet in a 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night that allowed the Goats to ascend from the Western Conference cellar.
The plan, as it has been all season in road environments, seemed simple enough for Chivas USA: secure the spaces in front of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and give Torres a couple chances to find the back of the net. They checked off both of those objectives and grabbed their seventh point in the last three league matches.
“I believe the guys came in with a good mentality,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera told reporters at Buck Shaw Stadium. “We had the possibilities not only to create chances, but to score. It was a solid performance in the back starting with our goalkeeper, the back four and guys in the middle.”
The Rojiblancos were on the wrong end of a 1-0 result against the Earthquakes in late April, falling due to sloppy play in front of goal. That fresh memory served as a learning experience, and Cabrera made sure his formation was rock solid on the second trip up the California coast.
“This team is one of the toughest teams, especially when they play at home,” Cabrera said of the Earthquakes. “We played here a few months ago and they beat us on a cross. We learned a lesson.”
Cabrera made three lineup changes from the group that grabbed a much-needed victory against Real Salt Lake last weekend – Ecuadorian international Oswaldo Minda officially returned from World Cup duty to displace Agustin Pelletieri at holding midfielder, Marco Delgado filled in for the banged up Martin Rivero and Ryan Finley manned the spot usually occupied by Leandro Barrera.
Eight minutes into the second half, Torres netted his 11th goal on the year by cashing in a ball that had trickled to his feet off two San Jose players’ heads. Content with the scoreline, Cabrera then called on defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste and newcomer Nathan Sturgis for help. Kennedy made a diving save in the 81st minute to seal the club's second road win of the season.
“It was a rewarding three points because it’s important to continue believing in what we do,” Cabrera said.