Well, against all odds, perhaps, Chivas USA have embarked on a winning streak near the close of what looks like their final season, as they came from behind to beat the Colorado Rapids at "home" 2-1 on Saturday. Substitute Kristopher Tyrpak jumpstarted the comeback with his first MLS goal, and Felix Borja did what he does best, grabbing a goal off a header to score for the second (should be third, but for the cranky scorekeeper) week running to give the Goats all three points.
The game was unsurprisingly tough to watch at times, with much of the play muddled through the midfield, but the Rapids had the upper hand through the first half, with Charles Eloundou attempting to put his sputtering team on his back. The breakthrough came courtesy of Eloundou, as he dribbled into the box on a diagonal run in the 30th minute, then executed a subtle cut while simultaneously feeding defender John Neeskins to the left, and Neeskins buried the chance at the near post past Dan Kennedy. For the rest of the half, it appeared CUSA was desperate to get to halftime and regroup.
The first 20 minutes or so of the second half was pretty even, but the turning point came in the 64th minute, when Tyrpak entered the game for Ryan Finley. Tyrpak, who had been persona non grata with the first team in recent months, seemingly, hadn't featured in an MLS match since June 8, but he made the time count. Within a minute of entering, he took a ball on the edge of the final third from Matt Dunn with his back to goal, turned and dribbled through several hapless Rapids defenders, before slotting the chance past an onrushing Clint Irwin to even up the game. It was great to see Tyrpak get that first goal as a full pro, and he was fired up. He also seemed to lift the Goats as a group immediately.
The game opened up the final 25 minutes, but the Goats had the best chance, and took advantage of it. Nigel Reo-Coker sent a pass out wide to Akira Kaji, who pushed up the field in the 85th minute. Kaji sent in a good cross into the box, and Borja got to it through three Colorado defenders in the 6-yard box to head it in. It was the second game-winning goal for Borja in as many weeks. What's even more impressive is that this is the first win CUSA have gotten without Erick Torres playing since March 30, 2013, which was of course several months before he even joined the team last season.
What's most impressive about the game is that Chivas USA didn't give up. We've seen this story before: a team whose future is in doubt (and this year, the doubt is for the club's very existence), that is sitting in the cellar of their conference, limps through the rest of the season, seemingly uninterested in fighting for results. Say what you will about Wilmer Cabrera's tactics, lineup decisions, and personnel decisions, but he hasn't completely lost the locker room, and there's something to be said for it.
The team should take heart from starting a winning streak, and coming from behind to win a winnable game. I know it means a great deal to the CUSA supporters, and if this team is going to go away soon, at the very least it's nice to see them win at the end.
With the win, Chivas have actually climbed off the bottom of the Western Conference, leapfrogging San Jose, who they will play in the season finale. They are at 30 points for the season, putting them level with 2012's points total, and that means they have surpassed the 28 point mark they set in 2010. In the grand scheme of things, that doesn't mean a lot, but for the history of the club, it means they are apparently at least a bit better than in 2005 (18 points), 2013 (26 points), 2010 (28), and at least similar to 2012. But there are two more games to go to potentially surpass even that mark! Is it possible to believe the Goats can show us more in the final two games?
On that front, it's perhaps a bit unfortunate that Chivas have a bye next week, before returning to action for a midweek game October 22 against Real Salt Lake on the road. They'll conclude play, possibly forever, with the finale against the Quakes at "home" October 26.
We'll have more coverage of this win in the coming days. For now, what do you think? Let us know in the comment section below!