HARRISON, N.J. — Matias Almeyda knew the team on the other side of the field well. He studied them thoroughly as coach of Guadalajara, where he led Chivas to a victory in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals a year ago.
“The first half it was a great game. The second half, it was pretty bad,” he said. “It was against a team, they have been working together for five years now, and they already have their system installed. We're still searching for a bunch of new things, a new mentality and new style of play and it's going to take time.”
That doesn’t make the losses, or the goals conceded, any easier to swallow. He pointed to many reasons for conceding a league-high nine goals through three games, and all are self-inflicted.
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“Work, mentality, concentration, the nine goals that we conceded is, I don't think of one where it's the strength of our rival,” Almeyda said. “It's more our mistake. That shows that that we have to keep working to get what we're looking for.”
Almeyda, though, has belief. There’s patches of positives — like a first half in which they took a deserved lead and probably should have had at least another goal. And there’s confidence in the roster assembled to work through this adjustment period to a new coach and a radically different style of play.
“We're going to try to give our current players we have confidence,” he said. “It's never easy to change a system, it's a whole different system and as time goes, we're going to get out of this one we're in.”
Almeyda also made a point to back Chris Wondolowski, who is on the precipice of becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer, but has now gone three games without a goal.
“He hasn't done very many chances,” Almeyda said. “He’s still working with the club, with his teammates, with us. He's a goal scorer and sometimes goal scorers have goal-scoring phases and sometimes they have droughts, for him and as well as for the rest of the team, we should still keep improving.”