Relief, pride as Chivas USA get everything but full points
CARSON, Calif. – A lot of Chivas USA's recent misery came to an end on Sunday.
The club-record seven-match losing streak? Over. The team’s brutal 600-minute scoreless skid? Snapped. The club’s five-match losing streak at Home Depot Center? Done with as well.
The only thing missing after Sunday's contest against FC Dallas was a victory. But after their 1-1 draw, the mood in the locker room was buoyant and positive even without the three points in the bag.
“It feels a helluva a lot better,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told reporters. “But definitely it’s something positive out of this game. At this point of the season, it’s always tough to make sure match those other teams who are fighting for a playoff spot. But we pretty much took the wind out of Dallas’ sails, so that was a big accomplishment for us.”
Unlike already-eliminated Chivas USA, FC Dallas had quite a bit to play for. A win and their own playoff hopes would have been in decent shape, but a draw harms them somewhat. Chivas meanwhile had nothing at stake, their playoff chances dashed with a loss in Vancouver on Wednesday.
Still, Los Rojiblancos battled and were the superior team when the final whistle sounded.
“We tried to be a bit uglier and try to be a bit more result-oriented,” veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas said. “As the game wore on, we benefited a little bit and then the soccer started to come along. The fight was there and that’s fantastic. The fans were cheering late in the game and that’s fantastic.”
And while players said their team perhaps was a bit unlucky not to get a result in previous outings, the feeling after Sunday’s match was a bit different.
“We should have won,” Vagenas said. “No matter how well we played the last couple of games, I don’t know that I could have said that after the game. But tonight, we should have won.”
Chivas USA started off the match with the same formula as recent outings, by surrendering an early goal. Blas Pérez did the damage this night, but instead of the game getting out of hand as the last two have (4-0 losses to Real Salt Lake and Vancouver), the Goats stayed in the game.
Juan Pablo Ángel came on at halftime and helped spark the comeback, forcing Kevin Hartman to make three saves, all stellar, all shots that perhaps should have gone into the back of the net.
“I've seen for so many years Kevin Hartman pulling off unbelievable saves,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser said. “Unfortunately, tonight was one of those days for him again.”
Still, not even a hot goalkeeper was enough to stop Chivas from ending their horrid scoreless skid. In the 69th minute, Miller Bolaños slipped a ball across the goal area. The ball got past Hartman and Jorge Villafaña was there to knock the ball into the back of an empty net.
“Is there some relief? It’s nice to finally score a goal," Fraser said. "It’s nice to finally play well at home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the second one and really make it a good day for us.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.