For the third straight match, Chivas USA were forced to reach into their bench in the first half to make an early substitution. In the end, it was just too much to ask as the Rojiblancos fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on Wednesday night.
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After a nervy start, Chivas head coach Robin Fraser was forced to make a pair of substitutions because of injuries. In the just the 11th minute, Mike Lahoud went out with an ankle injury forcing veteran Mariano Trujillo into the match. Then just 27 minutes later midfielder Paulo Nagamura was replaced by Simon Elliott due to a foot injury.
“Obviously, we didn’t expect that,” Trujillo told MLSsoccer.com on phone after the match. “We had a plan and we wanted to stay with that plan. Also substitutions are to improve your team, so when you have to waste subs — if you can say that — on two injuries, it’s tough.”
As the Rojiblancos tried to find their feet after the two early substitutions, the Timbers were able to capitalize on the disarray with Eric Brunner scoring the decisive goal just before halftime. The Goats were able to rebound late and eventually pressure the Timbers in search of an equalizer, but Brunner’s goal stood.
“It started with a turnover in the midfield and us not dealing with that sequence well,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. “Eventually it makes its way to a corner kick, then a player gets lose and they score. It’s certainly extremely disappointing for us to give up a goal in that fashion.”
In addition to the early substitutions, the Rojiblancos were without forward Juan Pablo Ángel who, according to Fraser, was left in Southern California due to concerns about his ability to deal with the JELD-WEN turf.
The defeat marks a disappointing end to the Goats’ five-game road trip, as they finish up with a 1-2-2 record. Although they end the month-long excursion just a single point out of the playoffs, the feeling around the locker room is that there were points left on the table.
“You always want to get more points,” said Fraser. “Regardless of whether you’re at home or on the road, you want to get three points and we just feel like we didn’t get enough points and obviously, the standings will show that.”
Chivas finished the night in 12th place overall, tied with D.C. United. Both clubs are on 31 points, one behind both Portland and the New York Red Bulls in the hunt for the final playoff slot.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano