Chivas USA's discouraging inaugural season continued Saturday as the squad endured a 3-0 loss to D.C. United at a steamy RFK Stadium.
Similar to the teams' first meeting in the MLS season opener in April, Chivas dictated the pace of the game early, but failed to translate that into a score and fell victim to United's opportunistic ways thanks to two rapid-fire goals just before halftime. Tallies from Santino Quaranta and Jamil Walker sentenced Los Rayados to an uphill climb that proved unsurmountable.
"It was a tough loss," said striker Rodrigo Lopez, who made his MLS debut upon entering in the 84th minute. "I thought we did good in the first half. In the second half the team was tired, we were down 2-0, and the third goal came and everyone just put their heads down."
Led by captain Ramon Ramirez, Chivas tested the defending champions in the first half, distributing the ball crisply and challenging D.C.'s players with deft touches in one-on-one situations. On several occasions the home side were forced into clumsy fouls like the one that earned D.C. holding midfielder Clyde Simms the game's first yellow card half an hour in, only three minutes after he entered the match.
Antonio Martinez and Armando Begines looked particularly sharp as they roamed the left flank, getting behind the defense and creating several opportunities with quick combination play.
But United kept their composure and center back Bobby Boswell took advantage of a Chivas turnover in midfield to race forward and set up Quaranta for the score that proved to be the game winner.
"I think in the first 40 minutes we at least played the same level as our opponent. The difference was we made more mistakes than they did," said Chivas coach Hans Westerhof.
Once United got on top, they were able to settle into a possession rhythm that Chivas USA were hard-pressed to disrupt as they chased the ball in field-level temperatures topping 110 degrees.
"It was very tough," said Martinez of the heat. "It affected both teams. Obviously, they scored the two goals at the end of the first half, so they were the team that was going to keep possession and we were the team that was going to start running and chasing them."
"You can see that they have been playing together for a long time," said Westerhof of United. "They moved better than we did. When you play against D.C. United at this level and you're down 2-0, it's almost impossible to come back."
Chivas will try to break their three-game losing streak when they return to the East Coast for next Sunday's match against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium, and the anticipated addition of refuerzos Francisco Palencia, Juan Pablo Garcia and Hector "Pirata" Castro offers cause for optimism.
"You can't let it bother you," said Martinez of the club's mounting losses. "You have to keep battling. We're getting a couple of new players and hopefully they'll make the difference for us."
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.