CARSON, Calif. — In a game Chivas USA described as a “must-win,” the Rojiblancos succumbed to old struggles Saturday night, allowing three crucial turnovers that led to three goals in a 3-0 loss to D.C. United.
Whether it was a giveaway by Juan Pablo Ángel or a failed clearance by Ben Zemanski on the edge of their own box, each of the Goats’ early mistakes was punished with a Charlie Davies goal.
“Obviously, that’s as bad as it gets,” head coach Robin Fraser said after the match. “The disappointing part was that we didn’t give ourselves a chance. So early in the game, to give up goals on simple turnovers that lead to goals is just unacceptable."
After dropping behind two goals inside the first 15 minutes, the Rojiblancos appeared listless, unable to generate anything of the possession after DC dropped off their onslaught. Chances by Ante Jazic and Ángel began to breathe life into the stagnant attack before the pattern of mistakes repeated.
Just as it appeared the Goats were working themselves back into the match, once again, a turnover — this time by Simon Elliott — allowed Dwayne De Rosario to lead a break that ultimately led to Davies’ third goal. With old mistakes proving decisive yet again in such a pivotal match, Chivas USA were left to ask themselves just how can they cure themselves of old ills.
“We always work on the right things in training as far as I'm concerned, so to have a great opportunity like this is very disappointing,” Elliott told reporters after the match. “The intensity was there in patches, but I feel that we talk about the right things, being aggressive at the start, but we can't do it. Or we didn't go out and do it tonight; it’s a bit of a stuck record.”
The defensive errors were not the only black mark on a disappointing night for the Goats; their backline was further depleted as David Júnior Lopes was given a red card for a collision with Chris Pontius in the 69th minute. The loss of the Brazilian will only further stretch a backline that has struggled with injury as of late.
Despite the defeat, Chivas still remain in the heat of the playoff chase with six games left on the docket. The Goats’ season may not be over, but there was no disputing after their defeat to DC that something must change.
“At the end of the day, if you give a team goals, then you are making it really difficult for yourself,” added Fraser. “And I thought the goals we gave away today were incredibly soft.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano