Los Angeles Soccer: Miller Bolaņos
The Galaxy (8-10-3) have won five of eight games since returning in mid-June from a three-week break, and they ought not to have lost the two games they've dropped in the span. Their resurgence, following a dreadful first 2 1/2 months, is all about the big names: David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Chivas (6-7-5) has lost only one of its last nine league games, posted three straight shutouts -- the Rojiblancos haven't surrendered a goal in 318 minutes -- and gone 6-2-5 since mid-May, including the run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
The rivals sit fifth and sixth in the Western Conference, separated by four points on the boundary for playoff berths, and every conference encounter can be a six-point swing.
Here's a look at the 27th SuperClasico showdown, Saturday at 7 p.m. at Home Depot Center in Carson:
CURRENT FORM: There's been a lot of good and a bit of bad in both teams' recent performances. They're getting results, but Chivas USA's attack is toothless, and the Galaxy has taken to outscoring opponents, or at least trying to, which leads to some grossly entertaining encounters.
L.A. just picked up seven points in a three-game road swing, and they've come from behind for three wins and a tie in the past month. Two Beckham goals fueled last weekend's 5-3 romp over Portland, and 18-year-old rookie Jose Villarreal, from Inglewood, came off the bench to score a terrific 87th-minute goal to deliver a 2-2 draw Wednesday night at Portland.
Reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez's absence because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament has been debilitating all season. He returned to action in the July 4 loss to Philadelphia but hasn't played since, complaining of pain in his surgically repaired right knee.
CARSON -- The steps Chivas USA has taken this season are apparent in the results the past two months: just one loss in 10 games of every stripe -- and that to Real Salt Lake -- with a march into the U.S. Open Cup's final four.
How much further the Goats still must go is right there, too: They've won just twice against Major League Soccer competition during that span -- and that extends to 10 league games, going back into mid-April.
They've been turning a corner, in the parlance, but where that corner straightens isn't yet clear, it seems. Not everyone agrees.
“I feel like maybe the first month of the season, you could emphasize that,” Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said on the eve of Saturday night's match with the Vancouver Whitecaps (8-4-5) at Home Depot Center. “I feel like the last two months, we've really turned that corner and become a team that can really grind results out.
“I would like to obviously see those results not just being ties.”
The Goats (5-7-4) have asserted themselves the past two months as their personality -- a gritty possession team -- has matured with the acquistions of, especially, young forwards Juan Agudelo and Jose Erick Correa. There's a growing dynamism within the group, and as they hit the midpoint of their MLS campaign, the next step in the evolution requires that dynamism to start translating into goals.
Chivas has hit the net only 11 times in 16 games, by far the worst rate in MLS. It has been shut out seven times, scored more than once just twice, and that's not entirely about the scoring struggles at season's start: no goals in two of the last three MLS games.
“We certainly feel like every day we're getting closer to the group understanding what is necessary to create more chances,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “We like our group of players. There's this gelling process we certainly feel has to take place and is taking place. The more we see the group, the more we feel like it's coming along.”
CARSON -- Chivas USA has survived stiff tests from two lower-division teams to reach the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals for just the second time, and they know that's not about to change.
The Charlotte Eagles, the Goats' foe in Tuesday night's final-eight showdown at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium, have an air of destiny about them -- and a belief, tested and proved, they can handle whatever a Major League Soccer team throws at them.
“We feel like we deserve to be here, because we've really put some good games together,” said Charlotte head coach Mark Steffens, whose team also beat second-tier San Antonio Scorpions in the fourth round. “Now if we added all of our play the whole season, I'd say, no, we don't deserve to be here. But the way we've played the second half of the season, it hasn't been a surprise winning a few big games.”
The Eagles, who are affiliated with Christian group Missionary Athletes International and, Steffens says, consider their religious mission more important than winning trophies, are ninth in the 11-team USL Pro with a 3-8-2 record (and a game at home Thursday against the L.A. Blues). They're 6-4-1, including the Open Cup wins, since the end of April, and the losses have come to the league's Nos. 1 and 3 teams and to longtime rival Richmond Kickers, a result they answered in a 4-1 romp a week and a half ago.
“Our turnaround has been defensively,” Steffens said. “So we're not going to do anything different than we've done [during a 4-2-1 run] the last six weeks. We're just working on defending and defending as a unit and getting behind the ball, so that's what we're going to do. If we can counter and get one [goal], it's always good to get ahead.”
Chivas, which made it to the semifinals two years ago, understands well Charlotte's approach. The Goats have had to battle to get past amateur powerhouse Ventura County Fusion in the third round, then needed a Juan Pablo Angel penalty kick in stoppage to beat second-tier Carolina RailHawks three weeks ago.
“In some respect, these games are harder than MLS games because you're playing guys who are salivating at the mouth, and that's always difficult,” said Chivas midfielder Peter Vagenas, who has won four Open Cups, twice with the Galaxy and twice with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders. “You're playing teams that are desperate and have nothing to lose, and that's always difficult. ...
“By no means are we taking it lightly. The first two games were, quote-unquote, lesser opponents, and at some point they gave us everything we could handle, and we expect more of the same. We have to make sure that we match [their] intensity, and if we match [their] intensity -- this is no disrespect to them -- but certainly our soccer will prevail.”
CARSON -- Chivas USA has been punished for mistakes all season -- it's a recurring theme for the Goats, and so is how they create so little from a goodly amount of possession.
Both were at play Saturday night, when they ran into a stronger, more precise and -- because of Chivas' unexpected win back in March -- more pumped up Real Salt Lake side, which used its every advantage to post a 3-0 victory before an announced 13,816 at Home Depot Center.
Fabian Espindola scored on each side of halftime and Will Johnson added a stoppage-time strike as RSL (10-3-2, 32 points) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games, became the first MLS club with double-digit wins and restored its lead atop the Supporters' Shield standings after D.C. United had grabbed the top spot a few hours earlier.
An uncharacteristic error from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy led to the first goal, RSL's transition game tore a hole in Chivas' midfield for the second, and the Goats had no answer, struggling again to accomplish something worthwhile in the final third.
“That's been, I'd say, our Achilles all year,” said left back Ante Jazic, who was involved in the error on RSL's opener. “I mean, we do a great job getting to the final third, and then that last pass or the final cross or the final product is lacking.
“It's coming. I think we're playing better as a team in general, but the toughest thing to do in this game is score, and we definitely have to start scoring some goals.”
It's the sixth time in 14 games Chivas (4-7-3, 15 points) has been shut out this season -- and the fifth time in eight home games. Only Toronto FC and Philadelphia, the two worst teams in MLS, have fewer than the Goats' nine goals.
Chivas created virtually nothing worth noting until it was down by two goals, and only Juan Agudelo's 85th-minute header from a Ryan Smith cross tested RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
“Certainly, we have players that we think are good players, and we have to be able to execute,” Goats coach Robin Fraser said. “Tonight we didn't execute in the attacking end, and we took stretches of possession and didn't turn them into dangerous chances.
“I do feel like we've had this conversation many times.”
The Argentine midfielder obliged them Friday morning, putting on a clinic to steer the Goats to a 3-1 MLS Reserve League victory over San Jose on one of the training fields west of Home Depot Center's stadium.
“I think today he's put in his best effort since he's been here,” assistant coach Greg Vanney said. “He was dangerous -- he was goal-dangerous. ... For him, it's getting him to think about the goal and think about the final product and not just about possessing around the field.”
Possession-wise, few can match Cardozo, a 22-year-old Uruguayan born magician who came to the Galaxy last year on loan from Quilmes and was sent down the hall when L.A., in dire need of backline help, came calling for David Junior Lopes -- who, by the way, dropped by to watch some of Friday's action.
Cardozo had the best foot skills on the Galaxy, but a pretty good margin, and to watch him weave through foes in tight spaces is something truly to behold. If the chief aim in the game were to weave through players in limited space, he'd be Lionel Messi.
That skill has never translated into production, one reason the Galaxy found him expendable -- and why Chivas, as it has added dynamic young attacking talent (with, especially, Jose Erik Correa and Juan Agudelo), has used him in only three of 10 first-team games since his arrival.
“We challenged him over the last few days,” Vanney said. “He's crafty in possession and can speed around, but at the end of the day, as an attacking midfielder you have to have final product. ... Today he definitely had some good looks.”
David Beckham took a fairly sizable cut in pay to stay with Galaxy rather than chase Paris Saint-Germain's millions, it turns out, and he's no longer Major League Soccer's top earner.
That's the big news from the MLS Players Union's release Friday of salary figures across the league, an annual event that provides the only substantial look at at least a portion of player contracts in the league.
Beckham, whose initial five-year deal with the Galaxy paid him $32.5 million -- $5.5 million in annual salary and $6.5 million in average guaranteed compensation -- settled for $2.5 million less this go-round: His salary is $3 million and guaranteed compensation is $4 million.
That drops him below New York Red Bulls stars Thierry Henry ($5 million and $5.6 million) and Rafa Marquez ($4.6 million for both figures). Galaxy striker Robbie Keane (making $2.917 million in salary, $3.417 million guaranteed) is No. 4 on the league's list, and captain Landon Donovan ($2.4 million) is No. 5.
Beckham was offered a reported 18-month, $18.7 million contract by French giant PSG before re-signing a two-year deal with the Galaxy in January.
Additional compensation, beyond base salary and guaranteed compensation, is not accounted for in the Players Union survey.
Chivas USA striker Juan Pablo Angel also took a substantial pay cut, dropping out of Designated Player territory. He's making only $350,000 in base salary (after receiving $1 million under his previous contract) but $600,000 in guaranteed compensation (down from $1.25 million).
The Galaxy has the second-highest payroll at about $10.76 million, behind only the Red Bulls' $12.2 million. Chivas is 14th at nearly $2.62 million.
Chivas has been economical in picking up talent in South America. Star central midfielder Oswaldo Minda is making only $50,000 ($68,750 guaranteed), fellow Ecuadoran Miller Bolaņos and Colombian forward Jose Erik Correa just $48,000 apiece, and Colombian center back John Alexander Valencia $50,000.
Decent raises were given to Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy ($175,000 from $62,496) and Galaxy defenders Omar Gonzalez ($180,000 from $120,000) and Sean Franklin ($205,000 from $97,389).
CARSON -- Chivas USA has had its share of legends and big stars, most of them -- Claudio Suarez, Ramon Ramirez, even Francisco Palencia and John O'Brien -- near or at the ends of their careers.
Juan Agudelo is something else: a superstar in the making, and his Goats debut in Saturday night's SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy could go down as one of the signpost events in club annals.
The tall, talented teen with bearing beyond his years did nothing spectacular and a whole lot of things really well in his first start with his new club, playing a key role setting up Jose Erik Correa's penalty kick and showing flashes of what he, Correa and Miller Bolaņos -- and Juan Pablo Angel, too, perhaps -- can achieve once they're all on the same page.
“I think Juan had a good debut,” coach Robin Fraser said after Chivas (4-6-1) ended a 12-game winless streak against their cross-stadium rival. “He’s a player that wants to be on the ball, he’s a very attack-minded player, he’s got very solid feet. You can see there are times when he wanted the ball, he wants to run at people, he wants to make things happen, and I thought his impact was immediate.
“We’re extremely excited to have him, and we’re extremely excited to watch him develop. He’s very special.”
Agudelo, whose excitement was such that he experienced “probably one of the most anxious feelings that I’ve had before a game ever,” was happy with how things went:
- “I felt great, and at times I wasn't able to find the spacing [with teammates] that I wanted, but I think that it's something that over time I'll improve, knowing the positions and holes with this team.”
- “[My chemistry with Correa] is going great. We're both Colombian, so we speak Spanish to each other, and I think that connection of South America is working.”
- “[Fraser's system] suits me really well. Just with my height [6-foot-1], I felt like crosses to the far post, I was dangerous then, and I think that moving forward that could be something that could help us get some goals. I feel like sometimes with my heading that I’ve got more power on it, and in this type of system, I love it that the coach encourages freedom.”
The 19-year-old, Colombian born striker, who departed Sunday to join the U.S. national team's Florida preparations for next month's start to its World Cup qualifying campaign, has impressed in international play but didn't fit into the New York Red Bulls' Eurocentric approach, and his trade Thursday to Chivas has rejuventated his young career. The Goats are a far better fit stylistically, culturally and in terms of opportunities to grow.
CARSON -- Chivas USA ended the most painful drought in club history Saturday night, beating its hated rival for the first time since 2007, but more than that, the Goats offered a tantalizing glimpse at what their future could look like.
Juan Agudelo, acquired in a trade Thursday from the New York Red Bulls, made a fine impression in his debut, teaming up front with Jose Erik Correa and Miller Bolaņos to create an attack that, once everyone is on the same page, could lead to something very special.
The Goats dictated play most of the first half and, with new defender Danny Califf anchoring a fine backline performance, held off a resurgent Galaxy after halftime to claim a 1-0 triumph before a sellout crowd of 18,800 at Home Depot Center.
The goal came on a 72nd-minute penalty kick by Correa, who had to take it twice -- the first was waved off when Jorge Villafaņa encroached before the shot -- firing both to virtually the same spot.
That's two goals Chivas (4-6-1, 13 points) has scored at home this year, both on penalties, but this one meant a lot more, giving the club its first home victory in six tries.
That it came against the Galaxy (3-6-2, 11 points) made it all the more spectacular. L.A.'s unbeaten streak against its cross-stadium rival had reached 12 games, with victories in the last five meetings and in the last six regular-season encounters.
“It's big,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser, a former Galaxy star. “I think I underestimated the level of rivalry between the two teams when I first got here. I was surprised by the nature of the comments after our first game last year, and it was very evident that there is very little respect for this club [from the other side]. We talked a lot during the week that the only way to get respect is to go out and earn it and I thought they did a good job of that tonight.”
Chivas came closest to scoring in the first half -- Bolaņos hit the base of the right post from 24 yards after stripping the ball from Juninho near midfield in the 34th minute -- and got big back-to-back saves from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, on Pat Noonan and Kyle Nakazawa, five minutes into the second half -- and got the only goal following a rather odd play.
Oswaldo Minda, returning from a yellow-card suspension, lofted the ball into the Galaxy goalmouth, and goalkeeper Brian Perk leapt over Agudelo to knock the ball away. As both crumpled to the ground, it fell to Correa, who volleyed sharply past A.J. DeLaGarza and at former Chivas defender David Junior Lopes, who was standing on the goal line.
The ball caromed off Lopes' left arm. Referee Mark Geiger showed him the red carded and gave Chivas the spot kick.
Jose Erik Correa made the most of his first start, but Chivas USA couldn't hold onto to its advantage at the finish, settling for a draw in game they should have won even if they didn't really deserve to.
Correa scored with a simple but tremendous touch in the fourth minute, and the Goats defended with everything they had the rest of the way, coming within two minutes plus stoppage of their fourth road victory of the season before Alan Gordon's header gave the San Jose Earthquakes a 1-1 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
It's the sixth goal, of the dozen the Goats (3-6-1, 10 points) have conceded in 10 games, to come after the 80th minute. It's the first that turned a win into a tie, although twice would-be draws became losses on stoppage-time strikes.
“At the end of the day, you take every point you get, because at the end of the year, they're all going to be important,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “Certainly having lost [three in a row], it was important to come out of this with something.”
Given the onslaught they survived in the second half, the Goats are fortunate to have that point. Dan Kennedy was again superb in the nets, making three huge saves -- on Simon Dawkins in the 28th minute and Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart in the 55th and 74th -- and the men in front of him were organized and committed, terrific if hardly perfect.
“I think if you were to tell us that we were going to come in here and get a point, we would have been happy with that,” said Kennedy, who faced 24 shots (to five by Chivas) and 15 corner kicks. “The team really put in a shift in the second half. Obviously, we were under pressure. They had a lot of service. For me, I think this is something we can build on.”
Gordon, a former Galaxy stalwart who spent time with Chivas in 2010 and most of preseason last year, returned from a hamstring injury to score the equalizer. First-round draft pick Sam Garza, from UC Santa Barbara, delivered the cross from the left flank, and Gordon got behind center back John Alexander Valencia to easily head the ball into the net.
Valencia failed to jump on the play, and Garza had far too much time to prepare his service. As relentless as the Goats were defensively -- Fraser called it “a very resolute effort” -- there were problems. They left San Jose little space to operate, but their marking was sometimes ridiculously poor (Chris Wondolowski and Dawkins were open at the far post for a cross from Lawndale's Rafael Baca in the 18th minute) and struggles to effectively clear the ball helped San Jose maintain constant pressure the final 45 minutes.
San Jose (7-2-2, 23 points) had far more possession -- 62.5 percent, officially, although completed passes (503 to 302 for Chivas) better illustrate the dominance -- and the Goats put just one shot on target, Correa's goal on their first genuine foray.
CARSON -- It happened again for Chivas USA -- another 1-0 loss at home, and in a match that turned really ugly at the end -- but forget the score and how Philadelphia got its goal, and it felt a lot like a victory.
The Goats dominated the Union on Saturday night at Home Depot Center, racking up 21 shots (to just four for the visitors), sending 40 crosses in from the run for play (to just five for Philly) and holding onto the ball for two-thirds of the game. Impressive numbers, but the only one that mattered -- how many of the chances generated were finished -- was nil.
“Obviously, we're gutted,” said right back James Riley, whose misplay in the box led to the goal, by Freddy Adu just before halftime. “Obviously we don't ever want to lose four straight at home, especially 1-0.”
The good news for the Goats: Next week's game is on the road, at Colorado. Chivas (3-4-0, 9 points) has won all three away games.
They should have had this one, too, but Philadelphia sat back, was difficult to break down, scored on its only real chance, then hung on as Chivas sent a barrage of balls into the box in the second half but forcing Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to make just one tough save, diving to parry a 28-yard free kick from Blair Gavin.
Miller Bolaņos was the primary instigator, repeatedly taking on defenders along the right flank -- Wildomar's Gabriel Farfan, largely -- and spraying balls into the middle, but the Goats struggled to get on the end of crosses, and when they did, the touches weren't quite right.
Philly's goal came from an odd play. Michael Farfan -- Gabriel's twin brother -- danced into the box from the right flank and was able to get a low cross into the goalmouth past defender Heath Pearce. It hit Riley, who should have cleared the ball but instead fell over. Adu backheeled it into the net.
“I take full responsibility,” Riley said. “For sure, it's a play I make 99 times out of 100, for sure. I feel bad for the team, letting them down that way. ... Just leaned back too much. It got caught under me. I was just going to try to swipe it out. I was in a good position, just didn't execute it.”
Juan Pablo Angel, back in action after missing five games following a concussion, came on in the second half and had Chivas' best opportunity. Bolaņos delivered a perfect cross just beyond the 6-yard box, but the big striker's header bounced wide and high.
CARSON -- Chivas USA has quickly revealed itself as a most effective road team, winning all three encounters away from Home Depot Center after staving off extended pressure and scoring goals both beautiful and timely.
Victories at Real Salt Lake, Portland and last week in Toronto have produced within the team a standard of confidence absent since the glory days of Preki's reign, and suddenly the Goats are starting to look like a genuine contender for a postseason berth, perhaps more.
Their next step? Prove they can win at home.
Chivas (3-3-0, 9 points) is zero for Home Depot Center, with three losses in three home games -- all by 1-0 scorelines -- heading into Saturday night's match against the Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center. Road wins are terrific, but a team can't succeed unless they claim points at home.
“We need it,” midfielder Nick LaBrocca said. “We definitely need to win at home. Dropping three [points] at home is definitely something to be forgotten.”
Since they were last home, three weeks ago in a defeat to still-perfect Sporting Kansas City, Chivas has overcome a deficit with two second-half goals, both off astoundingly good service from Ryan Smith, to win in Portland, then tallied from a corner kick and held on against a heavy win to pick up all the points in Toronto.
A better focused, more aggressive attacking mindset is turning possession into chances, and the Goats' defense has been among the best in the league -- in great part because of Ecuadoran midfielder Oswaldo Minda, who has been dominant in the middle. Miller Bolaņos, Minda's Ecuadoran countryman, is starting to assert himself.
“Everyone's personalities are starting to come out,” LaBrocca said. “You can't just throw it all out there right away without knowing where to really be effective. ... We're starting to see more relationships being built. The chemistry on the field, on the ball is growing, and also learning the quality of you teammates and ... what position you need to be there to help them in.”
The Goats could have Juan Pablo Angel back against Philadelphia. The Colombian striker, who has missed the past five games, cleared MLS's post-concussion protocol Friday morning and will be available for selection. Maybe he starts, maybe he comes off the bench, maybe he doesn't play until Monday's MLS Reserve League match against Seattle.
Sometimes it takes a bit of skill, sometimes a bit of luck. Chivas USA needed both on a windy afternoon in Toronto to pull out another road victory Saturday, its third in a row.
Oswaldo Minda's first Major League Soccer goal, two clearances off the goal line and another outstanding 90 minutes from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made the difference in a game, just like last week's, that changed its tale after halftime.
A week ago, the Goats answered a horrid opening 45 minutes with a superb second half to overcome Portland. This time, they held off a Toronto FC barrage following the break to claim a 1-0 victory, their third in three road games to push their record to 3-3-0 and climb, however early it might be, into the Western Conference playoff zone.
“I still don't think we're putting out a convincing performance, but as long we we get the three points,” defender Heath Pearce, who knocked away a late Ryan Johnson shot headed for the net to ensure the victory, told ESPN Los Angeles afterward. “We don't want to get complacent. It's another three points, but it's a long season, and we have to be consistent. That was the biggest [problem] last season, and we want that to be a thing of the past.”
Consistency was difficult in the conditions. A strong, cold wind blew off Lake Ontario, and when it was at Chivas' back to start, the game belonged to the Goats. They deserved more than just Minda's 31st-minute header from fellow Ecuadoran Miller Bolaņos' corner kick, but created virtually nothing once headed into the breeze.
“It was pretty significant,” said head coach Robin Fraser, who has guided the Goats to back-to-back wins for just the second time in his 15―-month tenure. “It wasn't that it was impossible to play against, but it definitely helped the team that had it.”
Toronto utilized it more effectively than did Chivas -- they had 10 second-half corner kicks (Chivas had seven in the first half) and created a half-dozen genuine chances, with Pearce, Bolaņos and Kennedy making heroic stops to keep intact the club's second shutout of the season. Johnson called Toronto's failure to score “mind-boggling. ... We could have had four or five goals.”
“I really think certainly in very, very important places tonight a lot of guys stood up and did very well,” Fraser said. “There were a lot of corners coming in late, and the guys were winning battles, winning headers ... Dan had a couple big saves again.”
Bolaņos finished from crosses from Jorge Villafaņa in the 68th minute and trialist Victor Chavez in the 80th. He also converted a penalty kick in the 12th minute, after Chivas director of soccer operations Kevin Esparza -- serving as referee after the officiating crew didn't show -- whistled Normando Mariscal after contact with Villafaņa.
Julio Madrigal scored both goals for the Rangers, curling in a corner kick off of goalkeeper Patrick McLain's hands in the third minute and then firing the fourth-tier club ahead again 11 minutes into the second half.
Bolaņos continues to assimilate into American soccer, which is a far more physical, frantic game than he's used to in Ecuador.
“Before I came here, they had told me it's a very strong soccer, and little by little I'm going to adapt and I'm going to adjust to the group,” he said.
Bolaņos has made just two appearances in five MLS games, both off the bench, and is trying to work his way into the first-team starting XI. Games like these help.
Chivas USA can point to a lot of good in what hasn't been a particularly sharp start to the Major League Soccer season, in terms of possession and defensive work all over the field.
It has not been nearly enough, but the Goats believe they're about to turn a corner. A couple of goals Saturday night in Portland might be enough.
Chivas (1-3-0, 3 points) is coming off a solid week of training, head coach Robin Fraser said, following an impressive offensive performance in Monday's MLS Reserve League victory over the Galaxy.
“I think we really looked at a lot of our issues and, at the end of the day, talked about being aggressive in the attacking end of the field,” Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles after arriving Friday in Portland, Ore. “We had a good week of training in regard to that. Most important, I think, is the mentality of the team continues to solidify to do the things we need to do to be successful.
“I think our runs were more aggressive [Monday], our ideas were more aggressive, and certainly that needs to translate [into Saturday's game].”
Cesar Romero, who against netted his second hat trick with the reserve team, and Miller Bolaņos, the Ecuadoran attacker who so ably partnered Romero, could get a look against the Timbers. They prospered in a 4-4-2 alignment, with diamond midfield -- Chivas' preferred system last year. The Goats have used a 4-2-3-1 most of this season, including all four league matches.
Rookie Casey Townsend has gotten starts the past three games in Juan Pablo Angel's absence, and he has Chivas' lone goal this season, a heads-up finish to beat Real Salt Lake two weeks ago in Sandy, Utah.
The other three matches, all at home, have been 1-0 defeats marked by superb defending, a healthy amount of possession and inadequate penetration. In four games, the Goats have created four true goal chances.
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.
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.”