The start of the 2011 MLS season may be only a week away, but Chivas USA remain a work in progress.
The Rojiblancos fell in their final preseason match, 2-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park, after goals by Daniel Hernandez and Ruben Luna. Chivas ended the match with 10 men after captain Jimmy Conrad was sent off, and ended preseason with a 3-5-1 record having only scored five goals – just two against MLS opposition.
Chivas USA have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net throughout the preseason and on Saturday night failed to score for the fifth time in those eight contests.
[inline_node:317206]There were some positives, though, as Justin Braun went the distance for the second straight match and appears fit heading into the season opener against Sporting Kansas City. While failing to win is disappointing, the Rojiblancos understand that learning from the experiences of the preseason is what truly matters.
“It was a good stepping point for us,” said rookie defender Zarek Valentin. “We wanted to prove ourselves after the last game and we made certain strides, but the score line wasn’t the best … we’re definitely getting more confident though.”
Valentin played in alongside Conrad in central defense after spending much of the season in right back. The match was a learning experience for the young Valentin, who was called for a hand ball in the 23rd minute, leading to Hernandez’s opener just a minute later.
The match marked the return of Heath Pearce to Pizza Hut Park after being traded from FC Dallas in late February. Pearce went the distance against his former opponents, starting at the right back position rather than at left back where he has played since joining the club.
In addition to Pearce’s return to his old stomping grounds, the newest member of Chivas USA, Nick LaBrocca, started and went 90 minutes in midfield just a day after being acquired from Toronto FC. With the preseason in the books, Pearce was optimistic that there was still time for the Rojiblancos to get on the right page before the matches start to count on March 19th.
“It was a disappointing result, but that’s the game goes and hopefully we can get all the kinks out before the first game,” said Pearce. “We’ve got a lot to work on this week, but I think that we’re making strides. … First and foremost, we want to get results and we need to figure out how to do that.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano