By: Mario Melara
“The disappointing thing is that I feel like individual mistakes lead us to where we are.”
Chivas USA Head Coach Robin Fraser best summed up a disappointing home opener for Chivas USA, who fell 3-2 to the newly rebranded Sporting KC of Kansas City, in front of a vibrant “rojo y blanco” crowd of 18,122 at the Home Depot Center.
Sporting KC opened the scoring in just the 2nd minute of the first half with a goal by rookie C.J. Sapong. A communication breakdown between Chivas USA goalkeeper Zack Thornton and his defensive back line lead to an easy goal by the Sporting KC rookie out of James Madison.
“The mistakes you saw tonight of a team that is still gelling,” said Head Coach Fraser.
Chivas USA’s starting lineup on Saturday night saw only one starter from last year’s lineup, Ante Jazic. Major changes came after a disappointing 2010 MLS campaign, where the “rojo y blanco” finished eighth in the Western Conference last year. Chivas USA added veterans Jimmy Conrad and Heath Pierce to sure up the defense, along with 2011 MLS Superdraft selection Zarek Valentin.
“I think we are very different team than the Chivas team from last year. We are playing with a sense of purpose and pride,” said Chivas USA captain Jimmy Conrad.
Chivas USA fell behind 2-0 in the second half when Sporting KC’s newest addition Omar Bravo scored in the 75th minute and where never able to recover after that.
In a twist of irony, Omar Bravo, who last played at Chivas de Guadalajara, scored two goals against the sister club team of Chivas USA. Chivas owner Jorge Vergara stated that because Sporting KC came to table first with a much more lucrative deal, Omar Bravo was sent toward Kansas City and not Los Angeles.
After seeing last year’s revolving door team, this year’s Chivas USA team looks hungry and is playing with a sense of purpose. Head Coach Robin Fraser has implemented a 4-1-4-1 formation that is both exciting when Chivas USA is on the offensive attack, and yet is compact to support the defense.
One player that really stood out in the match was Marcos Mondaini, the Argentinian who comes to Chivas USA on loan from Boca Juniors in Argentina. He is a very crafty player who is not predictable.
If Chivas USA play with the same sense of passion and purpose, and solidify the defense with more communication and unity, this team may have a shot at the MLS playoffs. Next up for Chivas USA is next Saturday, March 26th, against reigning MLS Champions Colorado Rapids at the Home Depot Center.