By: Mario Melara
Carson, CA – Chivas USA were officially eliminated from the 2010 North American SuperLiga tournament tonight even though they pulled off an impressive 1-0 victory over Mexican club team Pachuca at the Home Depot Center. The Houston Dynamo’s win over Puebla F.C. earlier in the day meant that mathematically there was no possible way that Chivas USA would advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. However, this team showed a lot of grit and character tonight, played aggressively, collectively, and showed stints of what this team might be capable of.
Giancarlo Maldonado scored his first goal as a Chivas USA player in the 7th minute as he took a long over-the-top aerial ball from defender Ante Jazic, perfectly brought it down, took one touch to his right, and blasted a rocket past Pachuca goalkeeper Cota.
“Today’s first goal was good. It gives me confidence now to go on now to use for league play,” said Giancarlo Maldonado.
Chivas USA looked hungry and determined in the first minutes of the opening half as their high pressure defense was causing multiple errors by Pachuca. In the 22nd minute Chivas USA forward Jesus Padilla had a great chance to put the goats up 2-0 when he linked up nicely with Maldonado, but his wide open shot was right at goalkeeper.
Pachuca’s best scoring opportunity came in the early minutes of the second half when a corner kick play saw Montes take a blistering shot from about 20-yards out that just missed wide left past Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Now, how would I rate Chivas USA’s overall performance in this tournament?
Yes, it would have been nice for this team to go further in the tournament. But realistically, with all the recent changes within the team, losing Kljestan, Maicon Santos, and now adding new players such as Nagamura, Espinoza, Maldonado, and now Zizzo (who was added today through an MLS lottery), the most important thing for this team is getting these guys comfortable playing together. Now three games in as Chivas USA players, Espinoza and Maldonado are linking up much more fluidly and creatively.
What ultimately matters is how Chivas USA finishes their MLS campaign. If they hope to bring in some savior from overseas such as Thierry Henry, to save their season, they can keep on dreaming. This team is going to have it to do the old fashion way, play as a team, grind it out, fight for every loose ball, and play every match like it was an elimination game. That is the only way they are going to get out last place in the Western conference.
It will be interesting to see how this team comes out for their next couple of MLS matches. On the schedule is a tough road match against Real Salt Lake this Saturday and then the Columbus Crew at home next Saturday. These next two matches will surely tell us what to expect from this team and whether I should start circling my calendar for the playoffs, or start figuring out what to watch during the winter EPL season.