By JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif — Chivas USA's quest for its first win of the 2011 MLS season ran into the defending champion Colorado Rapids, who look like a team intent on repeating.
Playing without star strikers Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, the Rapids still managed to post a 1-0 road victory against Chivas USA on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
Quincy Amarikwa provided the goal for the visiting Rapids, beating Zach Thornton off his line for the match's lone goal.
The Rojiblancos tried to muster up some second-half heroics as they pressed on in the attack, but to no avail. The Rapids backline stuffed most of the attempts and had a little assistance from the crossbar.
“It was obviously disappointing,” confessed Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser. ”We just really need to focus on competing," Fraser said. "We’ve been focusing a lot on soccer, tactics, decision and that sort of thing. At this point it’s just obvious that we need to focus on competing.”
Amarikwa delivered the game-winner in the 31st minute, pouncing on a Ben Zemanski error and chipping Thornton for the finish.
“I just peeled out for a run and I was calling for the ball and I happened to get it,”Amarikwa said. “I saw the keeper come off his line and I figured he was going to commit early so I waited till the last moment till I could chip it off over his leg. It happened to get over him and I just put it in.”
Chivas USA was missing a quartet of players called up for International duty. Michael Umana with Coasta Rica, Alejandro Moreno joined his Venezuelan brethren, Andrew Boyens was with New Zealand, and rookie Zarek Valentin with the U.S. National Team U-20 squad.
The Rapids were also hit by international call-ups, with Omar Cummings (Jamaica) and Sanna Nyassi (Gambia) away on national team duty.
Rapids Coach Gary Smith explained that those, “two guys that are very explosive, lots of pace. And when you lose guys that are that pacy, you lose a dimension to the team.”
“And don’t forget Conor [Casey] didn’t start. So we were without our two top goal scorers tonight.
Casey has been dealing with a calf injury and according to the coach had been working “tireless” to get fit.
As if things weren't bad enough for Chivas USA, midfielder Blair Gavin left the match with what appeared to be another hamstring injury.
Next week, Chivas USA will look for better fortune in the US Open Cup against the Portland Timber at the University of Portland in mid-week play. Colorado travels to Chicago to face the Fire.