The Chivas USA U-18 Team is currently in the middle of its second straight participation in the Copa Chivas in Guadalajara, and the team's Head Coach, Sacha van der Most, has been writing about the team's experience at the tournament in Mexico. Here's the first installment of van der Most's updates, this one covering Chivas USA's arrival at the tournament through the first game, played on Saturday.
Chivas USA’s ‘Copa Chivas’ Blog
By Chivas USA U-18’s Head Coach Sacha van der Most
The team gathered at LAX, where assistant coach Carl Edwards met up with the club. After the flight to Guadalajara, we were picked up in our own Chivas USA bus by our guide Alejandra, who had also worked with us in 2008. We checked into the hotel and then went straight to registration, picked up our credentials, and received a gift bag for players and staff. Back at the hotel we enjoyed a good dinner and met the Saprissa U-18 Team, the only other club in our hotel. We called it an early night and the team went to bed.
From 11:00 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. we trained at the Chivas Chapalita complex where we our first two matches were going to take place. The goal of the practice session was for the players to loosen up the muscles from traveling, regain their touch, walk through our offensive and defensive formations, and practice some set pieces.
After lunch we gathered for a video session. We showed clips of our game earlier this season against the US U-17 National Team, and then showed the boys the type of opponents we could expect in the games against the Mexican teams in our pool (Toluca, Santos and Morelia) by watching last year’s Copa Chivas game against Necaxa. The boys seemed to be confident and excited to get a good result in the first game.
In the evening, the coaching staff went to the welcome dinner at the historic Palacio de Comerica in downtown Guadalajara. At the dinner were representatives of all the clubs and the Chivas Guadalajara board. The organizing committee made a great impression on the participants by showing how important this tournament is for the club and the city of Guadalajara.
At breakfast, the team seemed to be relaxed and focused, which we thought was a good sign. There is a buzz all around town for the tournament to start. The bus took us to Chivas Chapalita where we were welcomed by our supporters and entered the locker rooms.
Chivas U.S.A. 3 – 2 Toluca
Chivas USA, 4-5-1 formation
Kamran Kyltash (GK)
Steve Torres – Edwin Velasquez – Omar Becerra – Bryan de la Fuente
Cesar Zamora Clayton Eaton
Daniel Castro Jesse Paredes Orr Baroush
Chivas USA took the initiative early in the game, which resulted in several opportunities for Polo Morales and Orr Baroush. In the 7th minute, Kamran hit a long ball which was flicked by Orr into Polo’s path, where the lone striker hit the ball with his first touch from 25 meters in to the goal to give us the 1-0 lead.
Toluca got more of a grip on the game by stretching out the field and finding an open midfielder, and in the 19th minute Toluca was rewarded with a penalty kick, which Kamran came close to saving but in the end tied the score at 1-1. Four minutes later Toluca found the gap in our midfield again, combined over their right wing, and finished off the cross with a nice volley to take the 2-1 lead.
We went into the locker room knowing that there was no reason to lose this game. In the second half, we took the initiative again and Toluca did not have an answer to our changes. In the 45th minute, Polo was taken down in the box. The ref pointed at the penalty spot and Orr took the responsibility to put it away, tying the game, 2-2.
In the 51st minute, the team showed that they picked up the halftime coaching points. Clayton put early pressure on the ball, winning it at the midfield line, and passed it back to Bryan de la Fuente who opened the ball to Orr on the left wing. His cross found Andy at the right side on the top of the box. He controlled the ball well with his first touch and his second was a driven strike at the far post to take the 3-2 lead.
The boys were then determined not to let this lead slip away. Toluca pushed forward, but our back line kept their composure, with Omar Becerra and Edwin Velasquez holding the center with Steve Torres on the right and Bryan on the left. Two minutes into extra time Toluca had their biggest chance when the center forward dribbled past our goalkeeper, but Steve Torres sprinted over from the right and saved the ball off the line.
In the afternoon all teams were received at the legendary Estadio Jalisco for the opening ceremony. It was a great experience for the boys to walk the field where many greats of the world of football have played, including Pele and Maradona. The team went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the next game against Santos, while the coaching staff stayed in the stadium and watched Chivas Guadalajara beat Tecos, 1-0.