Stub

Forward combo set tone for Chivas

In their inaugural season, it took Chivas USA 10 home games to score three goals. This year, it took the club all of 65 minutes.

When Ante Razov scored his second goal of the match 20 minutes into the second half, he not only gave Chivas just their second home game ever with more than two goals, he also sealed the club's 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.

More importantly, the win seemed to send a message to the rest of the league.

"It was an important day for us to change the whole outlook on this club," Razov said. "This is a new team with a new look and a new attitude. We want to earn some respect around the league."

Chivas' misery from a year ago was seemingly washed away with Sunday's glorious effort. The offense was dangerous for a change while the defense stood tall. Claudio Suarez manned the back line with his usual commanding contribution while fellow newcomer Tim Regan stepped in and did well alongside Suarez in central defense.

But it was the offense that kick-started Chivas, notably Francisco Palencia.

"Early in the game, the tone was set by Ante and really by Paco with their work," Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley said. "Paco doesn't get the goals today, but, boy, did he work and fight and hold the ball and open up things. ... The combination up there tonight -- not just the goals but the way they set the tone -- was really important."

Razov opened Chivas' account in the 21st minute. After RSL defender Eddie Pope tumbled to the ground, a booming ball from Suarez bounced at the top of the penalty area. Razov collected the ball, walked in alone on RSL 'keeper Scott Garlick and put the ball in the back of the net.

Then, Juan Pablo Garcia scored on a brilliant 20-yard volley that sailed over Garlick and nestled into the corner of the net.

After 25 minutes, Chivas had two goals. It took the club six home games before scoring two goals in one game. All the timely offense and stellar defense made it more than a great experience, certainly better than what the club went through last year.

"From the start of the game it was fun. That was a big thing. We wanted to have fun and have a good time playing," Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan said.

Moments after Garcia's goal, the already-loud crowd roared to even greater decibels. The red-and-white clad crowd of more than 20,000 loudly chanted "Chivas! Chivas!" over and over, so much so that Suarez said it reminded him of the atmosphere of a typical Mexican league match.

"When you have all those fans behind you ... and you get one goal, and you get another and you finish off the game in the second half, there's nothing like it," Guzan said. "Everyone was just all smiles today."

Still, although the win was nice for Chivas, it is just one game, players and coaches said.

"This is only one game," Razov said. "There is a long way to go so we've just got to build it little by little."

What began in the preseason has now continued over to the regular season and although it is only the first days of April, the club has a sense of confidence about it.

"We felt throughout preseason that the work was good, that we're going in the right direction," Bradley said. "The players believe that we can be a good team. I feel like there is a growing mentality in the group about what's going on. You want to just build on that and feel like they see it and they're ready to take this thing and run with it. It's just the first step."

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.