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Chivas USA is still looking for a victory

New Coach Robin Fraser experiments with his lineup to no avail in 1-0 loss to Colorado Rapids.

March 27, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones

Having spent the last week trying to sort through a somewhat limited range of options, Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser sent out a decidedly experimental lineup on Saturday night in Carson.

The outcome was no surprise.

Scoring the only goal it needed, the defending Major League Soccer champion Colorado Rapids secured their second victory of the season, winning, 1-0, on a Quincy Amarikwa goal.

Despite the loss, there were a few positives for Chivas. For one thing, its defense remained intact a bit longer.

Chivas gave up a goal only 1:45 into its season opener, an eventual 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City. It took Colorado 31:18 to break through.

The goal, when it came, was a strange one. Rapids midfielder Jamie Smith sent a pass from the left flank for Amarikwa to run onto. With the Chivas defense caught out, the forward eluded goalkeeper Zach Thornton, who came out of his area to challenge for the ball, which Amarikwa then steered into the unguarded net.

Chivas was down to 10 men at the time, midfielder Blair Gavin having headed for the locker room after being injured moments earlier when he was tackled by former U.S. World Cup player Pablo Mastroeni.

Gavin suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury and was replaced on the field by Mariano Trujillo.

It was simply the latest in a series of setbacks for Fraser, the new Chivas coach. He already was missing a handful of players who probably would have played a part in the game.

They included injured midfielders Simon Elliott and Paolo Nagamura, as well as defenders Zarek Valentin and Michael Umana and forward Alejandro Moreno.

The latter three were all with their respective national teams, and Moreno made the most of his call-up, scoring for Venezuela on Friday in its 2-0 victory over Jamaica.

For Chivas, however, the much-needed tying goal would not come Saturday.

The closest the team came to finding the back of the net was when Justin Braun, the team's leading goal scorer last season, got into the Colorado penalty area and unleashed a shot that was partially blocked by defender Anthony Wallace.

The deflected shot was tipped by goalkeeper Matt Pickens and ended up rolling agonizingly along the top of the crossbar before falling off and being cleared.

That was in the 56th minute, shortly after Colorado had come even closer to scoring.

Attacking in numbers, the Rapids managed to set midfielder Jeff Larentowicz up for a shot on target. The shot was half-blocked by goalkeeper Thornton and struck Chivas midfielder Michael Lahoud, who was behind Thornton, guarding the line.

Halfhearted appeals for a handball came to nothing as referee Terry Vaughn judged that the contact was not intentional.

One other incident of note was the frustrated Braun's rugby-like efforts in dealing with a couple of Colorado defenders, a tactic that earned him a yellow card.

Colorado goalkeeper Pickens was so angered by the play that he protested a shade too vociferously to referee Vaughn and received a yellow card of his own.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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