International Champions Cup: Shorthanded Chivas loses 3-0 vs. Benfica

Brian Witt
Fans were treated to an entertaining match at Levi's Stadium on Saturday, but it might have been closer if not for some odd scheduling.
Fans were treated to an entertaining match at Levi's Stadium on Saturday, but it might have been closer if not for some odd scheduling.

SANTA CLARA -- It's difficult to be in two places at once. Chivas put that to the test Saturday in its International Champions Cup match against Benfica at Levi's Stadium, and the results went as you'd expect.

Already at a talent deficit relative to reigning Portuguese champions Benfica, Chivas didn't put anywhere near its best lineup on the pitch Saturday afternoon, and that had everything to do with what's happening Sunday: Chivas' Liga MX season-opener against Santos Laguna in Torreón, Mexico.

Chivas enters its Liga MX season in penultimate place in the relegation table, meaning the Guadalajara club can't afford to get off to a poor start. With that in mind, Chivas head coach Tomás Boy made the decision to prioritize Sunday's league match over Saturday's ICC contest, which resulted in a split-squad arrangement, with the worse of those two squads representing Chivas in the Bay Area.

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Offseason additions Oswaldo Alanis and Oribe Peralta, for instance, remained with the other faction to prepare for the league-opener. Facing one of the best teams in the world without a full roster at its disposal, Chivas fell behind early and never recovered in a 3-0 loss at Levi's.

"It's not good to divide the team, and we knew about the difficulties to compete against these opponents in these conditions, but we decided we should do it because it's not easy to get invited to a cup as important as this one," Boy reasoned in Spanish following the defeat Saturday.

The match had the looks of one that might get out of control in the early going, after Benfica's Raúl de Tomás volleyed in a deft cross from Caio in the fourth minute. The Portuguese club dominated possession in the first half -- and for the entire afternoon, for that matter -- but proved unable to add to its lead going into halftime.

Chivas appeared to benefit from the intermission, as it put forth a surge in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Miguel Ponce and Alex Vega each nearly scored, but both hit the post. That proved to be a turning point in the contest, as Benfica soon capitalized on its own scoring chances.

Jota came on for Tomás in the 65th minute, and five minutes later, he delivered a perfect through ball to Rafa Silva, who doubled Benfica's lead with a well-placed ball in the bottom corner. Three minutes after that, Haris Seferović finished off a partial breakaway, providing the third and final goal of the match.

"We played a decent, strong game and on various occasions, we had opportunities several times," Boy expressed. "However, I do need to make changes. That is normal.

"Benfica is a great team, one of the best teams from Europe," he continued. "The thing is that there were little times that we could not control when they made changes, but in general, there is nothing to do but turn the page and go to Torreón and work with the other group that worked and the league will start."

Boy conveyed that, despite the loss, he was satisfied with his team's performance. The large contingent of raucous Chivas supporters that took over the sections directly behind the team's goal in the first half seemed to reverberate that sentiment.

Even after Benfica went up 3-0, the Chivas fan section was as rowdy as it had been all afternoon. You could hear the nonstop chants throughout the game all the way up in the Levi's Stadium press box.

"Well, the fanatics from Guadalajara are the best fans in the world and they accompany us everywhere," Boy complimented after the loss. "It is a pity we weren't able to give them the [win], and they'll have to wait a bit longer, but it is super wonderful to see the support that they gave us. It's very beautiful and very satisfying."

Unfortunate circumstances might have prevented Chivas from performing at an optimum level on Saturday, but they certainly didn't have the same effect on the fans who were there to support it.

International Champions Cup: Shorthanded Chivas loses 3-0 vs. Benfica originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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