Chivas USA battled back from a early deficit to tie FC Dallas 1-1 Sunday at the Home Depot Center. The draw snaps Chivas' seven-game losing streak, although the winless streak stretches to 11 games. It is, however, Chivas' first point since August 29, and their first point at home since July 18. The result gives Chivas a small bright spot that they may be able to build upon for the final two games of the season, while Dallas' hopes of making the playoffs are growing very dim at this point.
The scoring started early, with FCD getting a quick goal in the 8th minute. David Ferreira made a strong shot from the left side of the six-yard box that forced a save from Dan Kennedy, and Blas Perez ran right onto the rebound for an easy tap-in. With yet another early goal allowed, it appeared Chivas were headed down the same path yet again. But Chivas maintained pressure on Dallas, and had a few good chances, including a header by Miller Bolaños in the 17th minute that forced a clearance off the line by Hernan Pertuz. Although Chivas seemed to lack their sharpness for the first half, Dallas could not really exert their force on the match and gain control.
The second half ended up being controlled by Chivas, although Dallas fans will probably believe their team had a decent penalty shout on a couple of occasions. Juan Pablo Angel, coming off the bench to start the second half, had seven shots, including three on goal, all of which required saves from Kevin Hartman. Bolaños also maintained his recent production with several shots, and one in particular required a big save from Hartman.
But Chivas finally got the breakthrough in the 69th minute. Bolaños sent a cross along the ground from the right. Juan Agudelo wasn't in the proper position, JPA whiffed on it, but it squirted over to Jorge Villafana and he slotted it home. It was the first goal of 2012 for Sueño, and it broke Chivas' scoreless streak after 600 minutes.
Chivas had many late shots, but they couldn't get the winner. Still, a point is a big accomplishment for a team struggling as badly as the Goats have. With that, let's discuss some of the talking points from this match:
Attack took pressure off defense: In my match preview, I highlighted the significance of the attack in this match. With Chivas really working to keep control of the ball, it took pressure off the defense, which was very much needed with a starting center back pairing of Shalrie Joseph and Bobby Burling. Burling got a yellow card in the first half and looked like he was out of his depth early, and given the fact that they gave up the early goal, another lopsided loss looked likely. But since Dallas couldn't hold onto the ball enough to barrage Chivas' goal with shots meant that the defense did not have to absorb as much pressure as they've had to the past couple of months. This is how other teams do it, and it isn't even a significant accomplishment! But Chivas have dropped so low that this is indeed quite a feat.
History has been avoided: With the goal tonight, Chivas have scored 22 goals this season. Yes, that's a horrible total, and cannot be applauded or anything like that. But they aren't the worst of all time! They will not be remembered with D.C. United in 2010 for worst goal tally ever, and that hopefully help this team move on for next season.
The draw also means that Chivas are not in the running for worst losing streak in the league this season. Yes, they have broken the club streak, but they can't match or surpass Toronto FC's nine-game losing streak in 2012. Grasping at straws? No, trying to avoid infamy. It isn't much consolation but its a start.
Villafaña good, Hartman great: Villafaña got the start in midfield, which I believe is his first this season. I've advocated for him to be given a position and quit moving him back and forth between midfield and defense, but putting him in midfield worked wonders tonight. He was active all game, could control the ball in tight spots, and progressed the attack over and over again. That he got the goal was a great capper on his night, and his finishing was very good, something he's struggled with in the past. I'm doubt Sueño will ever be a star, but I think he's shown improvement every season in MLS, and I think he still has room to grow. The scene of him celebrating his goal with the crowd is the kind of sight Chivas fans have craved all year.
The man of the match overall, though, has to be Hartman. He had seven saves on the night, which obviously shows an improvement in Chivas' attack from Wednesday's match when they had no shots on goal. The Goats' main man, Kennedy, had four saves as well, and had a good game, but Hartman absolutely deserves credit for preserving a point for his team. It is an unusual position for Chivas to be in, but they really ought to have gotten the win. With an average MLS keeper (even by MLS standards, which are generally high), Chivas probably could have gotten the win, but Hartman showed he is still an elite keeper with his performance in this match.
Looking ahead: Chivas don't have a game for 13 days due to the FIFA international break, but when they are back in action they'll host the Colorado Rapids in the final home game of the season. Can Chivas build on this performance and look for more points to end the season? Or will they come out flat yet again and have another bad game? We'll have to wait and see, but a sliver of hope has been renewed.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!