Thursday, July 17, 2008
One for the ages
In their short history, Chivas USA has gone through quite a bit. For a while, every positive thing was a first: the first win, the first winning streak, the first time they were over .500, the first time they were top of table, etc.
Still, in Year Four, those string of firsts is not stopping. Three days after their first-ever match in an international club competition, Chivas USA may have scored one of their best victories ever.
Wednesday's 1-0 win over Santos Laguna was their first against a Mexican club in an official competition. More importantly, it put Chivas in position to reach the SuperLiga semifinals, which would be the furthest Chivas have ever advanced in any tournament.
Beyond that, though, the match showed that Chivas can play with top-notch Mexican competition. On Sunday, Chivas hung with Pachuca but couldn't get the result. On Wednesday, Chivas got the result - against the reigning Mexican league champions no less.
In the first half, Chivas was hanging in there but Santos were clearly the better side. But when Jesse Marsch and Ante Razov came in, the club instantly improved. The lack of depth has hampered Chivas this season but the club has quality player, including Razov who showed he can finish with the best of them.
In terms of historic significance, I'd put this win right up there with the victory over Houston in the 2006 playoffs. On Wednesday, I don't think many gave Chivas a chance. The last week has been nothing if not hectic for the club. First, there was the always-heated game against the Galaxy. Then the Brad Guzan transfer, which alone could have derailed the club's attention. SuperLiga came soon after and the club had to focus and deal with fatigue while trying to avoid a letdown against Pachuca.
Although they had to hang on for their dear lives at the end of Wednesday's match, Chivas did and showed character in doing so.