The biggest crowd of the year so far for a Chivas USA home game – 24,143 – saw a 2-0 win by the hosts Thursday over the Chicago Fire that was thoroughly entertaining to watch.
Actually, it was fun to ask (most of) the participants questions about it too, although Chicago players were obviously not happy.
Here’s Sasha Kljestan on his goal celebration that incorporated a Blanco goal celebration routine:
“I was sitting with my friend Benny Feilhaber yesterday and he said if I scored I had to do something about Blanco. He’s obviously a bit of a rival for us. No disrespect to Blanco, he’s obviously a great player. But I like his (goal) celebration, so I thought I would add it into my little karate celebration. I thought it was kind of funny.”
On the crowd:
“It was probably 50-50 out there tonight, if not more Blanco fans. I was trying to get our fans involved early on. We ended up getting the lead and I was happy the fans were into it. … We haven’t had the best home crowds here so far this year. … The feel inside the stadium just makes the game a little faster. We get pumped. We’re excited about these big games and we want to please our fans. Everything just gets a little more buzzed almost when you play a game like that. It changes the game.”
On the second half:
“We knew what the second half was going to be like and I thought we dealt with it very well. (Goalkeeper) Brad (Guzan) didn’t have to make any huge saves. It was a good team effort.”
On his attacking runs in the first half:
“Going at Diego Gutierrez was something I felt I could do tonight, so I tried to make the best of it, tried to make those runs behind him. Just try to use my youth, I guess, a little bit against him. It worked on the one play for the goal so that was good.”
Jesse Marsch on what the game meant to Chivas USA:
“This is a big victory for us. More than anything we need to get on a roll. … I hope we can play like this more often. I hope we break through here and capture the momentum.”
Last year Marsch was not happy with the calls Blanco was getting and the refereeing and although he tried to be diplomatic, was similarly unhappy this year, calling one hand ball called against him (Blanco struck the ball) “shaky”:
“I’m just running and the ball hit me. .. I have some issues with the referee, but I’d rather not air them. … In this league I’ve always seen some of the bigger names get calls. … Good players get calls sometimes. Refs are fans …. The Blanco thing I think is an issue a lot of teams would bring up about the referees.”
Chicago Coach Dennis Hamlett on why his team didn’t respond in the second half:
“We felt when it was 11 v 11 we had some very good looks that we didn’t finish and now you’d think having a man advantage you were going to get some more chances. We weren’t all on the same page as far as getting the ball out wide because the space was there. We just kept forcing things down the middle, playing balls in the air. When they have two guys who are pretty good in the air with (central defenders Claudio) Suarez and (Bobby) Burling it just played into their hands. We needed to get the balls out wide and create some one on one’s and whip some balls in. You’re going to create some chances because that’s what the defence is giving you.”
There was none of that a two goal lead is the most dangerous one in soccer from Preki:
“We were very professional, we knew how to play the game with a two-goal lead – a very good performance by us.”
On Nagamura’s red card:
“I thought it might have been a little bit harsh. I thought his first yellow was a little bit harsh because it was his second foul of the game .. I advised him to be a little bit smarter next time, you can’t take a risk like that.”
On goalscorer Justin Braun:
“The kid is working his butt off. He has a good mentality. He works hard. He looks for the ball in tough spots. For a guy who was playing amateur soccer three months ago he’s doing extremely well and can only get better.”
The game story is here.