Chivas USA had hoped to erase their road woes against the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium, but instead lost 2-0. After falling in Seattle last week to the Sounders, Goats' fans were hoping for a win in Northern California. However, last season's Golden Boot winner, Chris Wondolowski (no additional "w" was noticeable on his jersey), had other plans. Victor Bernardez, after fielding a beautiful pass from Steven Beitashour, was able to gather an assist on Wondo's header in the 45th minute past the outstretched arms of captain Dan Kennedy. This strike gave the Quakes the lead they needed to bury the Goats once more on the road. One certainly wasn't enough for Wondo as he recorded a brace in the 87th minute and guaranteed the home victory and clean sheet for the Quakes.
Adding insult to injury was Carlos Bocanegra's red card booking in the 62nd minute for a two-legged tackle on the Quakes' Shea Salinas. Boca's ejection crippled the Goats as they were forced to both play down a goal and down a man.
Here's what we learned from tonight's match:
International duty is over: The Rojiblancos were clearly hoping to capitalize on the absences and return of USMNT players Wondolowski and newly acquired CB Clarence Goodson from Gold Cup action. Expectations of rust or unfamiliarity were sorely mistaken as neither player appeared to miss a beat in connecting with their teammates. Wondo was all over the field, placing pressure on both the Goats' mid and back lines as he netted his 6th and 7th goals of the season, totaling 75 throughout his MLS career. Wondo's initial score broke with recent tradition as the Goats are usually the first team to score and the Quakes are considerably more comfortable playing from behind. On the defensive side, Goodson blended exceptionally well with his teammates and successfully defended against the Goats' attack. With more team acclimation, Goodson and San Jose have the definite signs of a dominant defense.
Wondo is the X-Factor: The San Jose Earthquakes are undefeated this year when Wondo scores a goal in an MLS match. Coming into tonight's game, the Quakes had 3 wins and 2 ties across all matches where Wondo scores. Tonight was no different as San Jose now has 4 wins and no losses with a Wondo strike. United States' fans are certainly glad to see his scoring revival continue as he shared the Gold Cup's Golden Boot with teammate Landon Donovan as they both scored 5 times, but it came at the expense of Chivas in this game.
Consistency: Coach Jose Luis Real decided to make wholesale substitutions following last week's loss in Seattle. Out were Jorge Villafana, Gabriel Farfan and Carlos Alvarez. In were Julio Morales, Josue Soto and Eric Avila, the latter returning from suspension. A young squad requires two basic principles in soccer: leadership and consistency. Kennedy and Bocanegra have been asked, and so far delivered the leadership, but Real must allow his younger players to "learn on the job" and play through their mistakes to accomplish that much-needed consistency. Marky Delgado is a perfect example of such. Real has played the midfielder all over the pitch and has now asked him to provide defensive assistance as a right fullback. Delgado has responded amazingly and has played himself into a mainstay within in the Goats' lineup. Real must exhibit this same faith in some of his other promising young guns such as Villafana and Alvarez so that their confidence remains equal to their potential.
Play on: A loss is only a missed a opportunity in the grand scheme of things and an MLS season is a long one. Even after consecutive losses, Chivas appears to be headed in the right direction. Tonight's match was a hard fought contest where the Goats' desire was never in question. In addition to Bocanegra's booking, Dan Kennedy and newly acquired striker Erick "Cubo" Torres picked up yellow cards. A week off and an upcoming home match next Sunday against the Colorado Rapids have Chivas fans optimistic and hungry for three points. Bring 'em on!
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