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Chivas USA caught with its defense down in loss

With key defensive players sitting out, the club falls to New England, 2-1.

May 12, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Two starting defenders Sunday had played a combined 36 minutes in the MLS season before this game against the New England Revolution.

Three-fourths of the back line from the last game, a mere eight days ago in Houston, were not on the field at Home Depot Center in Carson. And the lone returnee, Shavar Thomas, was nursing an injury.

Not a complete turnover, but that kind of drastic change clearly resonated for Chivas USA as its overmatched defense was tested and ultimately exposed in a 2-1 loss to New England Revolution before 10,927.

Scoring continued to be an issue. Chivas USA (1-4-2) were seconds away from going two games without a goal. The lone Chivas USA goal came just before the final whistle, in injury time, as Justin Braun scored his first MLS goal, getting set up by Maykel Galindo.

New England's goals came from Kenny Mansally in the 18th minute and Taylor Twellman in the 59th. The Revolution is 4-3-1.

"We give up the first goal all the time, and our history has proved that we're not good at getting ourselves back in the game," midfielder Jesse Marsch said. "That hurt. That made it very difficult for our group. That being said, up until the first goal things were going OK. I feel like it's a bit of a broken record."

The first goal came when Mansally split defenders Thomas and Jim Curtin, scoring on a low shot inside the left post having taken advantage of a terrific through ball from midfielder Jeff Larentowicz.

Twellman, who was making his regular-season debut after having knee surgery, replaced Mansally to start the second half and needed just 14 minutes to score, beating goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a composed finish of an experienced striker.

Not long after, Twellman's stellar return turned grim when he injured his right foot in a collision with Thomas. "It's just kind of a bummer right now. I'm not going to lie to you," Twellman said.

Two breakdowns, two goals.

"We didn't give too many things away, but we had a couple of breakdowns and we paid for it," Coach Preki said. "At the moment, it looks like the moment we make a mistake, we get punished.

"It's one of those times the ball is not rolling your way. But what are you going to say? You can't feel sorry for yourself."

You might say there's no crying in soccer.

But one more week like Chivas USA just experienced and there could be the need for tissues on the training field. The team will be without defender Lawson Vaughn (recovering from two facial surgeries) for at least six weeks and Jonathan Bornstein for six to eight weeks because of knee injuries. And defender Chris Pozniak was waived because of salary-cap issues, according to Preki.

The other absent defender was captain Claudio Suarez, who was sitting out because of the red card he received late in the last game against Houston.

Thomas, who left the Dynamo game with an injured leg in the second half, said Sunday that had Suarez been available, he probably would not have played against the Revolution.

But desperate times required unusual measures.

"You ask yourself: 'When are you going to get a break?' " Marsch said. "But you don't want to feel sorry for yourself. Sometimes, it takes one little thing to turn things in the other direction."

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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