CARSON -- Chivas USA's offensive problems, Robin Fraser believes, come down to mindset. The Goats need players willing to “go for it” if they're going to score goals and win games.
Cesar Romero has a message for Fraser: He can be that guy.
The first-year forward from San Diego scored a second-half hat trick Monday to lead Chivas past the Galaxy, 4-2, in an MLS Reserve League opener on L.A.'s training field at Home Depot Center, and after humbly noting that it “feels very good to win” and that he needs to “keep working hard to win my spot, try to win my time,” a little of his swagger crept through.
“When I'm coming into the game, in my head I'm like, 'When I'm going to score?' ” Romero said. “And if I get a chance, in my head, you know what? It's going to be in the back of the net. That's my confidence.”
He sparked the Goats to a 3-0 lead, crossing for Miller Bolaņos' header in the 54th minute, finishing from Bolaņos' feed five minutes later, then volleying a Blair Gavin cross in the 64th. He scored his third in the 86th after Chad Barrett had pulled two back for L.A.
“Cesar, he's a dangerous player,” Fraser said. “He makes good runs in behind, and if he continues to do that, I think he'll score goals in this league.”
Chivas (1-3-0) could use goals. They've scored just one (from just eight real chances) in their first four Major League Soccer outings, wasting outstanding defensive performances in three 1-0 losses.
“Are we producing enough opportunities? Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Fraser said. “But a little bit of it, I think, is a shift in our mindset. To create goalscoring chances, you've got to just go, you've got to go for it. And I felt like today we did a decent job of that. We did a decent job of looking to play in behind, guys running in behind, and we have talented players. So we put ourselves into position where we can make plays, where we can make half-opportunities into whole opportunities.
“So I think the lesson to be learned for us is we've talked about being aggressive -- for a long time we've talked about it -- but really when you see it in practice and you just go for it, you just create more chances and you have to be willing to do it.”
It's so close, Fraser says. “Can you imaging being inside my head right now,” he said. “To say we are a good team defending, to say that we can play through the midfield, and then we put all that together and say can we turn it into more dangerous opportunities, because if we do, then we win games.”
Romero, who is sturdy and strong, dynamic and explosive, could be an answer. Chivas used a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield rather than the 4-2-3-1 Fraser has employed in the MLS games, and the former indoor star -- he scored nine goals in a game twice this year for Tijuana's entry in the Premier Arena Soccer League -- had a fluid connection with partner Bolaņos, the Ecuadoran youngster best suited as an attacking midfielder or second forward.
“Anything's possible,” Fraser said when asked if he might pair them up front in an MLS match. “I wouldn't say it's etched in stone, and I wouldn't say it's impossible. We need to continue to look and see which combinations create goalscoring opportunities.”
Romero has scored 10 goals for Chivas in 10 preseason matches, three reserve friendlies, off the bench in all four MLS games, and now the Reserve opener. He also had a hat trick in a 7-1 romp March 18 over UC Riverside. His goal, he says, is to “be able to play on Saturday night.”
Fraser likes the sentiment. Now he's looking for consistency.
“What we see today, what we need to see on a consistent basis is testing the backline, looking to get behind -- because he's got very good pace -- and a day like to day just highlights once again what his capabilities are,” Fraser said. “We need to see them on Saturdays and Sundays as well as we see it on Monday. … You need guys who can bring it every day, who are able to make that difference every day.”
NEW GOAT: Chivas finally got Glendora's Marco Delgado (Glendora HS) to sign a Home Grown Player contract about four hours after the match ended. The 16-year-old midfielder, who goes by “Marky,” has been with the Goats' first team since camp opened in mid-January, and he played in five preseason games, reserve friendlies against the L.A. Blues and UC Riverside, and in the second half of Monday's game.
“The kid's got ability,” Fraser said. “He's got good feet, he's got good ideas, a very soft first touch, and he's growing more and more comfortable every time I'm seeing him. ... He's a player who's done so well for the youth team, a player who immediately stood out as a very good player. He's someone with a bright future.”
HIGHLIGHTS: All six goals were scored in the second half, with the Galaxy rallying from a 3-0 deficit on Barrett goals (from Adam Cristman feeds) in the 71st and 81st minutes before Romero netted his finale, which was misplayed by goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
Barrett might have had a third, but Chivas goalkeeper Tim Melia tipped his header over the crossbar three minutes into stoppage, and he fired high a minute later. In the first half, he played the ball too far on a breakaway run, and Melia was able corral it.
Kyle Nakazawa, Michael Stephens and Kenney Walker tested Melia, and a dangerous ball from Bryan Jordan was cleared by Chivas defender John Alexander Valencia early in the second half.
Chivas is atop the West Division standings and the Galaxy is last. All six clubs have played one match.
WORTH NOTING: Home Grown Player signing Jose Villarreal (Inglewood/Leuzinger HS), who signed in December, made his debut for the Galaxy. He underwent surgery in early February for bilateral lower-leg compartment syndrome. ... Jordan, who has been battling injuries, went the full 90 for the first time this year. ... Jorge Villafaņa played on the left side of midfield, his primary position before switching to left back late last season. ... Diminutive Galaxy Academy midfielder Raul Mendiola (San Bernardino/Rialto HS) came on late and made the pass before the pass on Barrett's second goal. Mendiola, one of the top youth talents from SoCal, recently trialed with Manchester City and Sevilla. ... The Galaxy bench featured two guest players: supplemental draft choice Justin Davies, who was dropped from camp March 4, and goalkeeper Jordan King (Malibu/Malibu HS and UC Riverside), who was in preseason camp with the Galaxy four years ago and is an instructor in goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer's goalkeeping academy. ... Chivas used two trialists (defenders Gerardo Daniel Torres and Matt Dallman) and left two on the bench (Victor Manuel Chavez and Jorge Eduardo Marquez). Former Academy defender Carlos Torres saw action as a guest player, and UC Santa Barbara-bound Academy forward Ben Spencer also was on the bench. ... Chivas Academy goalkeeper Jake McGuire (Chino/Damien HS), who has trained with the first team, has been called up to the U.S. under-20 national team.
Home Depot Center University Field 1 (Carson)
Galaxy 2, Chivas USA 4
C -- Miller Bolaņos (Cesar Romero) 54
C -- Cesar Romero (Miller Bolaņos) 59
C -- Cesar Romero (Blair Gavin) 64
LA -- Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman) 71
LA -- Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman) 81
C -- Cesar Romero 86
Galaxy: Bill Gaudette; Bryan Jordan, Tommy Meyer, Bryan Gaul, Dan Keat; Hector Jimenez, Kenney Walker (Jose Villarreal, 65), Michael Stephens (Rafael Garcia, 65), Kyle Nakazawa (Raul Mendiola, 80); Chad Barrett, Pat Noonan (Adam Cristman, 59). Unused subs: Justin Davies, Jordan King.
Chivas USA: Tim Melia; Scott Gordon (Carlos Torres, 72), John Alexander Valencia, David Junior Lopes, Gerardo Daniel Torres; Ben Zemanski, Peter Vagenas (Marco Delgado, 46), Blair Gavin (Matt Dallman, 65), Jorge Villafaņa; Miller Bolaņos, Cesar Romero. Unused subs: Victor Manuel Chavez, Jorge Eduardo Marquez, Patrick McLain, Ben Spencer.
Yellow cards: Noonan 29, Lopes 29, Keat 42.
Referee: Jesus Cisneros. Att.: c. 150.