Chivas USA strikers Justin Braun and Chukwudi Chijindu may have each scored their first goal of the season against San Jose on Saturday evening, but they have no intention of stopping there.
Both players have set high standards for themselves for this year and will be looking to add to their tallies in the coming months.
Braun, making his second start for the Red-and-White, found the back of the net in the 54th minute when he got onto the end of a cross from Mariano Trujillo. The goal was his ninth career mark with the Goats, and his fourth against San Jose.
“It’s great to get that first goal of the season and get that out of the way,” said Braun after Saturday’s match. “Hopefully I can keep building from here and get even more goals.”
Braun had a good start in 2010, spending three weeks in the U.S. National Team training camp in January before arriving at Chivas USA preseason. He was used as a substitute against Houston last weekend, but impressed enough during his time on the field to earn a starting nod against San Jose.
“In Houston, we didn’t create chances in the first half,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. “Justin Braun came in for the second half and gave us life. That’s what we needed going into the [San Jose] game. He came in and helped us.”
Chijindu, who also has two starts so far this season, replaced Braun in the 70th minute of Saturday’s game and quickly made his presence felt. He scored what would be the game-winning goal, and his first of 2010, in the 87th minute after collecting a long pass from Michael Lahoud and tucking the ball under Quakes ‘keeper Joe Cannon.
“For me, that first goal of the season was really important,” said Chijindu. “It’s like getting the monkey off my back. It’s a little bit less pressure, but doesn’t, in any way, shape, or form, allow me to slack off. It motivates me more because it’s always a great feeling when you get to score.
“We heard all throughout last season that we can’t score,” he continued. “That goal was me coming up and trying to make a statement for this team.”
Chijindu joined Chivas USA a year ago. The SoCal native went on to score his first MLS goal just 15 days later against Seattle Sounders FC.
“It’s important to get goals and it’s important to try and help the team wherever I can,” Chijindu said. “Obviously, the easiest way for me to do that is to score.”
Chijindu celebrated his first tally of 2010 by riding the corner flag as if it were a bucking bronco. It’s a celebration that Chivas USA fans will be hoping to see more of this year.
“Throughout my career, I’ve never really planned celebrations,” said Chijindu with a smile. “It was spur of the moment. I saw the flag and it felt good. I’ll have to copyright the Bronco.”
Chijindu, Braun and the rest of the Goats will be back in action this Saturday when they travel to Chicago. The Red-and-White haven’t scored a goal at Toyota Park since June of 2006, but will be looking to carry their momentum from the San Jose victory into Illinois.
“Coming off the loss from Houston, we kind of got a little down,” admits Braun. “But we kept our heads up and kept believing in our system and came back and got the three points against San Jose. Now we can build on that confidence when we go on the road to Chicago.”