Chivas USA is banking on health and home cooking
Through its first six home games, Chivas USA had produced only one victory, three losses and two ties going into Saturday night’s game against Portland at the Home Depot Center.
“These fans deserve better,” Chivas midfielder Ben Zemanski said after the latest lackluster home performance, a 1-1 draw against Vancouver on Wednesday. “We need to play aggressive in front of them, and go for wins in front of them, and we need to show them that. We need to figure out how to get wins at home.”
Injuries have been part of the problem, and the team is hoping midfielders Michael Lahoud (concussion) and Paulo Nagamura (calf), who both returned Wednesday, will help improve its fortunes.
“This [Saturday’s game] is another chance to improve our home form, and make a statement,” Lahoud said. “We need to defend this place like it’s our home, because it is our home, and that needs to get better.”
Chivas Coach Robin Fraser called the return of Lahoud and Nagamura “definite bright spots . . . guys who we’ve wanted to get healthy and they’re close and knocking on the door, scratching.
“And they were able to get in [Wednesday] and I thought both players were pretty bright,” Fraser said. “Paulo looked especially good in terms of [being] aggressive, and aggressive mind-set and good probing passes. Obviously made a few mistakes but you expect that when a player hasn’t played in four months, basically. And Michael also looked good and had some good moments. I thought physically they both looked good.”
Lahoud essentially missed six weeks. He tried to return in a 3-2 victory over New York on May 15, but a recurrence of symptoms sent him back to the bench.
Nagamura hadn’t played since a brief appearance during a scoreless draw against Vancouver on April 16.
“If you’re talking about my injury, it feels much better,” Nagamura said. “This time we took a little more caution and took a little bit longer. So when I come back, I’m not reinjured again.”
Thirty minutes on the field was too much in April, as Nagamura tweaked his calf. But the Brazilian said he felt fine after the 30 minutes he logged Wednesday.
“Thirty minutes was about right,” he said. “I was struggling a little bit at the end. The game opened up in the end, just something I have to work with over the next couple days. Get my fitness back and be ready to play more minutes.
“This time I felt much stronger, much better. . . . It’s been tough on me at the start of the season, but now I feel much better for shorter [stints], and I just have this fitness thing I have to work on, and be ready to help Chivas.”
Times staff writer Lisa Dillman contributed to this report.
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