Just four days after turning in their worst first-half showing of the year, Chivas USA cleaned up the early mistakes and walked into the locker room at halftime in a scoreless tie with the Columbus Crew.
In the second half on Sunday, though, many of the same defensive lapses and offensive issues resurfaced, and the Goats suffered a 3-0 loss, seeing their winless drought stretch to nine games, including eight losses.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game for us, the third game in one week,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the match. “It was hot, and I think the guys suffered in the second half. The first half was tough. We ran, played evenly and controlled the [Crew’s] attacking very well. But in the second half, the guys definitely ran out of gas.”
Sunday’s performance was different from what happened earlier in the week in a 4-2 home loss to the Seattle Sounders, though the outcomes were the same. On Wednesday night the Goats allowed four goals before the half and were unable to erase the deficit.
Chivas USA had to feel good heading into the halftime break Sunday, putting together a solid 45 minutes by sticking to their compact style.
“In the first half, we had really good shape,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “We gave ourselves a real chance, got on the ball and had some composure. Unfortunately, we gave up that first goal, and then we’re chasing the game. When you’re chasing the game, you’re leaving yourself a little exposed.”
The first goal arrived less than seven minutes into the second half when Justin Meram took advantage of three hesitant Chivas USA defenders and beat Kennedy with a curling shot. Meram notched the brace only seven minutes later, and Bernardo Anor iced the game in the 80th minute.
“When you take the risk, you leave spaces in the back, and we didn’t have really good answers in terms of attacking,” Cabrera said.
Chivas were without Erick Torres, who was on international duty with Mexico, so Ryan Finley earned his second start of the season. Finley, who started the season with the Crew, struggled to create much offensively, as did his fellow attackers. The Goats were outshot 16-3 on the day.
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“We played a solid game in the first half and kind of let it slip away in the second half,” forward Ryan Finley said. “Once [the Crew] got that one goal, it started to snowball from there.”