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CHIVAS USA: Goats too hot to impress

8/1/2011

Chivas USA has been hot lately -- no more so than in last weekend's romp over Houston -- but this was something else.

The Goats wilted Sunday in the blistering heat of Frisco, Texas, and their five-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a 1-0 loss against FC Dallas.

Marvin Chavez got the goal, in the 26th minute, his shot ricocheting in off Chivas defender Heath Pearce, with goalkeeper Dan Kennedy going the other way.

That was all the Hoops (12-5-6) needed in temperatures that hit 112 degrees -- that's heat index -- on the field, conditions that clearly bothered both sides, sapping everybody of energy.

Pearce, who played a season plus two months in Dallas, ought to know North Texas heat.

“I don't even remember this heat,” he told reporters after the game. “I don't know if I ever played in this heat when I was there.”

He said Chivas didn't come out “particularly strong, like we did the last couple games, but we hung in there. The turnovers are what eventually cost us the match. That many turnovers in this kind of heat is going to drain you pretty quick.”

The loss dropped the Goats (6-8-8) out of playoff territory, a point behind Houston for the final spot, but there's plenty of time to sort that out. Chivas has a dozen league games remaining.

A quick look at Chivas' loss:

BEST PLAYER: We've got two. Mexican U-20 national teamer Ruben Lana, positioned up top, was terrific in key moments for the Hoops and played the pivotal role in the goal. Dallas defender George John was solid at the back and nearly doubled the advantage in the 39th minute, heading Ricardo Villar's free kick off the post.

BEST GOAL: There was just the one, and all credit goes to Lana, who tracked down the ball at the endline, to the right of the goal, after Pearce tried to head it away from danger, then quickly hit Chavez in stride.

The Honduran star ripped a shot toward the middle of the goal, and Kennedy had it covered, but it deflected off Pearce and inside the near post -- with the goalkeeper going the other way.

“It just went straight off me ...,” Pearce said. “Pretty lucky. But that's the way the game goes.”

BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The heat. Officially, the temperature was 102 degrees -- hot for Dallas, but not outlandishly beyond the norm. But the on-field heat index -- that 112 -- set a Hoops/Burn club record.

Dallas reacted better to the conditions, no surprise -- Pizza Hut Park has been nicknamed “The Oven,” and the Hoops are used to playing in extreme heat.

“I love it,” John told the league's website. “I know that the other team dreads it even more so. I personally relish it. Our record shows that we do well and have been successful.”

Chivas coach Robin Fraser bemoaned Chivas' lack of sharpness and difficulty in “building up any kind of a rhythm.” Pearce agreed.

“No one had an advantage in this type of heat," he said, "but our turnovers and our lack of sharpness possession-wise and attacking-wise is what compounded into everyone getting tired, the field starting to get big, and us not doing what we needed to get a result.”

WORTH NOTING: Fraser went with a 4-1-4-1 alignment again, then switched to a 4-4-2 when forward Alejandro Moreno, in his first game since returning from Copa America, came on in the 59th minute for right-sided midfielder Michael Lahoud. ... Pearce appeared to have scored an equalizer with a header early in the second half, but referee Elias Bazakos whistled him for fouling Jair Benitez. ... Ben Zemanski returned from a sprained ankle, coming on in the 81st minute. ... FC Dallas have shutouts in eight of their past nine home games. ... The Hoops are three points behind the Galaxy in the Western Conference. ... Dallas' flight home from El Salvador, where they opened their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a victory Thursday night over Alianza, was delayed, and the Hoops didn't arrive home until Saturday.

FINAL JUDGMENT: “Tough conditions -- it was possibly the hottest game I have been a part of in MLS, so it was difficult for both teams,” Fraser said. “That type of game out there tonight, the team that capitalizes on their opportunities is going to be the team that wins the game. Dallas capitalized on a chance really early, and it was tough to chase the game after that. We fought hard, and in the end we came up a bit short.”

NEXT: Saturday at New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

  • SUMMARY

Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)

FC Dallas 1, Chivas USA 0


FCD -- Marvin Chavez (Ruben Lana) 26

FC Dallas: Kevin Hartman; Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez; Marvin Chavez (Eric Alexander, 62), Bruno Guarda, Ricardo Villar, Bobby Warshaw (Jackson Goncalves, 56); Brek Shea, Ruben Luna (Maykel Galindo, 70).

Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; Zarek Valentin, Michael UmaƱa, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic; Simon Elliott (Paulo Nagamura, 64); Michael Lahoud (Alejandro Moreno, 59), Blair Gavin, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Ben Zemanski, 81); Justin Braun. Unused subs: Francisco Mendoza, Marcos Mondaini, Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo.

Yellow cards: Valentin 16, Warshaw 49, Guarda 53.

Referee: Elias Bazakos. Att.: 10,023.