CARSON, Calif. – Under the lights of the Home Depot Center track stadium and wearing their new Corona-adorned uniforms on Saturday night, it seemed like a dress rehearsal that didn't go according to plan for Chivas USA.
The Goats fell 2-1 to the UCLA in what should be the club’s final scrimmage before their March 19 season-opener vs. Sporting Kansas City. Alan Gordon opened the scoring, but the Bruins responded with two of their own for the win. UCLA’s Chandler Hoffman leveled minutes after Gordon’s goal, and a penalty kick goal by UCLA’s Andy Rose sealed the Rojiblancos' defeat.
MATCH RECAP: Chivas USA 1, UCLA 2
But it wasn't all gloom and doom for Chivas. The goal was the third of the preseason for Gordon, who has scored half of the team's total this winter. Despite the loss, the Goats were able to create several chances that took their attacks into the final third, but couldn’t make the final pass.
With the opening match only 13 days away, head coach Robin Fraser was noticeably upset at the performance.
“We weren’t as good with the ball as we needed to be, then we turned the ball over in dangerous spots and then defensively, we didn’t add pressure right away,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Just things that we need to do to be good in this league because we weren’t as good as we needed to be with the ball, nor were we as tight as we needed to be offensively.”
A signal of what may be help on the way came in the 64th minute when Justin Braun entered the match for Chivas USA. The club’s leading scorer in 2010 with nine goals has not seen action for the club in preseason after picking up an Achilles laceration at the US national team January camp.
Braun set up a number of chances and added an extra dimension to the attack upon entering, but was unable to get the tying goal. While the burly forward was the club’s star last season, Braun admitted that he felt like he needed to prove himself all over again for the new coaching staff.
“It was good to be back, I’m definitely a bit rusty so I’ll need to sharpen things up in practice these next two weeks before the opener,” said Braun. “I haven’t had a chance to prove myself this preseason, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get my fitness and everything else back so I can compete for a starting spot.”
Chivas have struggled to find the net during the preseason, having scored only six goals. With the scoring drought in mind, Fraser admitted that it was good to see his Braun back at long last.
“It was the first time that I’ve seen him all year,” said Fraser. “Certainly he brings energy and pace, so it was good to see him play.”
In addition to the return of Braun, the club also welcomed Ghanaian defender Seth Owusu to the fold. Kept out of the country due to visa issues for at least a week, the fullback was in attendance, but did not feature in the match.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano