by JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif – Marcos Mondaini’s second-half goal was enough to earn Chivas USA the 1-0 win over the visiting Portland Timbers (5-4-2) at the Home Depot Center.
Chivas USA had a better showing than they did in their midweek clash against Vancouver. The passing was crisper, the possession was dominating, and the shots were plentiful.
“I was proud of the effort tonight, a 1-0 victory doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I was proud of the way that we went about it,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. “We put ourselves into dangerous positions quite often and probably could have scored a goal or two more, but our mindset was right and for that I was proud of the whole effort.”
Saturday night’s performance was by no means a warning to the league, but rather, “proof to ourselves, because we knew we were a better team than the team that played Wednesday,” said Paulo Nagamura. “Tonight we made another statement. We proved that we could be a very good team.”
All the chances, all the opportunities finally paid off in the 70th minute for the Rojiblancos. Nagamura surged on the right flank and crossed it into the six where Mondaini redirected it past Troy Perkins and into net.
“It was an opportunity that came at the time. I found the space in behind on the right side so I tried to make the run,” said Nagamura. “[Chris Cortez] gave me a very good ball, and I just tried to go down the line to Marcos.”
“Thanks to God, physically I felt very good,” said Mondaini. “But I was tired in the last minutes and I think that being out for four games started to affect me, but I’m very grateful to score and to give the team a win.”
The goal for Mondaini was his first since coming back from suspension. Another first for the night was goalkeeper Dan Kennedy donning the captain's armband.
“Always an honor,” said Kennedy. “I’ve been here for four years and this club has been very important to me and they drafted me out of college so it’s been a long time coming. Whether I’m wearing the armband or not, I try to be a leader out there and help the defense vocally and through my play.”
Portland was on their back foot the entire night. Opportunities were present but scattered seldom throughout the game. Moreover, the scatter-brained defense allowed the Goats to trigger off 19 shots.
The Rojiblancos applied pressure the entire night, but the 19 shots was by no means a tribute to their offense, but rather the folly of the Portland Defense.
“At times you’re under pressure and you want to hook it 50 yards and you clear it 20 yards and they were coming back at us,” said Timbers coach John Spencer. “Technique let us down at times and we could have done better clearing the line, we know that.”
After tonight, both sides are tied for sixth place in the Western Conference standing with 17 points.