Chivas USA's first exhibition match following the 2005 season ended in similar fashion as the rest of their games this year, with a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday night.
While other teams around the league are in the thick of the playoffs, this year's two expansion sides, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, met in an exhibition billed as a grudge match to determine the better of the two first-year clubs. It was the fifth contest involving the two newest MLS teams, the clubs having split the four regular season matches.
But, just because it technically didn't count for anything the players on both sides didn't take the game lightly.
"We didn't have a very good season," said striker Juan Francisco Palencia, "but it means a lot to have the chance to continue playing in these exhibition games. We take it very serious. You could see both teams were playing real good. No one was lazy. Everyone was playing 100 percent."
Palencia orchestrated the Chivas attack through out the night. When he had his chances, he took them, but he made the biggest difference beating defenders and sending in dangerous crosses to his teammates.
With the exception of the scoreline, Palencia was happy with the way the Red-and-White played through out the match.
"We did good," said Palencia. "We made chances on goal. We had good possession. I liked [how we played]. The only thing I didn't like was the final score."
Coach Hans Westerhof was also glad to have a game situation. Waiting through a five month break is a first for Westerhof, and he said exhibitions are good to keep his team sharp.
"We have 5 months we have to wait for the next game; for me that is very strange for the first time in my life," Westerhof admitted. "What you have to do is to at least maintain the level for as long as possible - at least until half way through December. These kinds of games help us [accomplish that]."
Even with the loss the coach is also happy with his players' intensity in a game that had little consequence. Westerhof saw the night good for both teams to stay in the mode of playing.
"It was an intense game, which is what you need because in training they do a lot but especially you need these kinds of games to work hard and give everything you have," Westerhof said.
"I think it was a good game on both sides. There's not a lot of difference between both teams. It is helpful for them, and it helps us."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.