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Chivas USA continues to find itself this preseason, a process that likely will extend into the Major League Soccer regular season, which is less than two weeks away. Monday night's 2-0 loss to Swedish club AIK in Portland, Ore., was another step along the path.
There was good and bad, head coach Robin Fraser acknowledged, but star forward Juan Pablo Angel expressed disappointment after the Goats were shut out for the fourth time in nine preseason matches.
“We’re disappointed with the result,” Angel, who hasn't scored from the run of play in six preseason starts, told the league's website. “There were times where we thought we played well, and there were times when we weren’t as good as we should have been. We need to try to get the next 10, 12 days in order to get ready for league, which is coming very rapidly.”
Miscues, the first when the backline failed to react quickly enough and the second farther up the field, led to both AIK goals, but Chivas' attack began clicking in the second half, and newcomer Cesar Romero twice came close to scoring.
“It was a learning experience for us again,” Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “We're still figuring out personalities and combinations of players. And the end of the day, it's a relatively new group, so all the games are important as we go forward. ...
“I just think as we go forward, we have to really embrace the philosophy that we have to work every minute of every game. That's how this league works. Teams that work are teams that ultimately are successful. As a group, we continue to learn that nobody can take any plays off. We're at our best when everyone works extremely hard.”
Fraser played a first-choice lineup -- the only real question, it seems, is whether Nick LaBrocca or Alejandro Moreno will accompany Oswaldo Minda at the bottom of the midfield triangle -- in the opener of the Portland Timbers' four-team tournament at Jeld-Wen Field. Moreno got the call this time, then exited after an hour after an inadvertent elbow to the face, which might have broken his nose.
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and the backline went the full 90 for the second straight game against foreign opposition, and Miller Bolaños lined up behind Angel, who still hasn't signed his contract. Michael Lahoud and Ryan Smith were on the flanks, with Brazilian trialist Alan Souza getting a run on the left side in the second half.
“At the end of the day, the starting group is starting to select itself,” Fraser said. “Every game is an opportunity to observe and pick up tendencies and how they play together, and a group is starting to emerge.”
Lalawele Atakora was pivotal for the Swedes, setting up Viktor Lundberg's opener just before halftime and then scoring the second goal seven minutes into the second half.
WORTH NOTING: The Timbers and San Jose tied, 1-1, in the second game. Kalif Alhassan gave Portland a 15th-minute lead, and the Earthquakes pulled even 14 minutes into the second half when Timbers defender Hanyer Mosquera deflected in a Chris Wondolowski cross for an own goal. ... Chivas plays Portland on Thursday night at 7:30, with the game streamed on MLS's website. ... Chivas Academy forward Ben Spencer, an Albuquerque, N.M., product who trains with Chivas' first team and is in Portland for the tournament (and has been targeted for a potential Home Grown Player slot), announced Monday on Twitter he has committed to UC Santa Barbara. He's a high school junior.
Jeld-Wen Field (Portland, Ore.)
Chivas USA 0, AIK (Sweden) 1
AIK -- Viktor Lundberg (Lalawele Atakora) 41
AIK -- Lalawele Atakora (Robin Quaison) 52
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; James Riley, John Alexander Valencia, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic; Alejandro Moreno (Casey Townsend, 63), Oswaldo Minda; Michael Lahoud (Laurent Courtois, 58), Miller Bolaños (Ben Zemanski, 55), Ryan Smith (Alan Souza, 46); Juan Pablo Angel (Cesar Romero, 71).
AIK: Ivan Turina; David Fällman (Sal Jobarteh, 85), Per Karlsson, Niklas Backman, Martin Lorentzson; Daniel Gustavsson, Robin Quaison (Robert Ahman Persson, 76), Daniel Tjernström, Lalawele Atakora; Alhassan Kamara (Kwame Amponsah Karikari, 78), Viktor Lundberg.
Yellow cards: None.
Referee: Paul Ward. Att.: NA.
CHIVAS USA PRESEASON
Record: 3-6-0; vs, MLS: 1-3-0
Jan. 27 vs. Ventura County Fusion (PDL), 60 mins.: L, 0-1
Feb. 3 vs. FC Hasental (NPSL): W, 5-0 (Lahoud 22, Angel pen. 24, Smith 40, Cortez 50, Romero 89)
Feb. 7 vs. Colorado Rapids: L, 0-1
Feb. 11 vs. Chicago Fire: L, 0-1
Feb. 14 vs. Montreal Impact, 60 mins.: W, 1-0 (Townsend 2)
Feb. 16 vs. Galaxy: L, 2-3 (Lahoud 53, Romero 77)
Feb. 22 vs. Club Tijuana (Mexico): L, 2-5 (Lahoud 36, Townsend 88)
Feb. 24 vs. Loyola Marymount: W, 4-0 (Townsend 10, 40, Souza 19, Romero pen. 49)
Feb. 27 vs. AIK (Sweden): L, 0-2
March 1 at Portland Timbers
March 4 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at Portland, Ore.