Through 89 minutes Sunday, Chivas USA was down 2-0 to FC Dallas and looked like they were headed for yet another loss to end the 2012 season. But two very late goals, including an equalizer by Juan Agudelo with the last kick of the game, gave them the 2-2 draw, leaving them with 30 points on the season.
Both teams put out rather strong lineups, although Chivas were missing more regular starters, including goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, to injury and suspension. Both sides played lively in the first half but couldn't convert their chances, and Agudelo had a pair of good chances just before halftime that he couldn't finish on goal. For Dallas, Jackson Goncalves in particular was dangerous in the first half.
Dallas finally found a breakthrough in the 73rd minute, when Jackson received a pass over the top from David Ferreira, and was able to knee it over Tim Melia. It was unfortunate for Melia, who had a strong game overall but could do little on that play. Dallas doubled their lead in the 80th minute when Fabian Castillo received a pass, again from Ferreira, and slotted it past Melia. To add insult to injury, Castillo had been involved in a scuffle with Ben Zemanski just a few minutes earlier, but he wasn't cautioned in the incident at all.
It appeared Chivas were doomed to yet another loss, as Dallas had continuous waves of attack for much of the last part of the half, but second half substitute Laurent Courtois, who came on in the 81st minute as Chivas' only substitute of the night, completely changed the game. Courtois put a shot on goal in the first minute he was on the field, and he converted his second shot of the night, in the 90th minute, when he received a pass from the outside of Zemanski's boot just inside the box, and hit it past Kevin Hartman in the bottom corner. That appeared to be a consolation goal, and while the ball went back and forth for the remaining three-plus minutes of stoppage time, Chivas didn't look like they were serious about getting a second goal until the three minute mark had been passed. At that point, Shalrie Joseph sent the ball on the edge to Jorge Villafana, who passed it to Ryan Smith, who in turn gave it to Courtois, who took the ball to the endline and crossed it right onto Agudelo's foot. Agudelo seemed to muff the touch at first, but he scored on the second try, giving Chivas a point in a very unlikely comeback in the 94th minute.
With that, let's go over some of the talking points coming out of this match:
Melia had a good night: I questioned him in his last start, but Tim Melia put in a great shift in this match. Obviously put into a tough situation, he stepped up and had a good game with five saves and a few more snuffed-out chances. And he was not to blame for either goal, with the defense unsurprisingly undone by a couple of precise passes. Dan Kennedy is the number one keeper, of course, but Melia acquitted himself well this season, with three wins, a loss and a draw in all competitions in 2012.
More puzzling decisions by Fraser: I don't want to kick the man while he's down. But he played another lineup with too many old guys for my taste. Alejandro Moreno, Peter Vagenas, and Shalrie Joseph have had their moments, but they are frankly few and far between, and there's a bunch of guys who haven't gotten a shot much this season with upside. I get that Fraser had nothing to lose, but why not give the young guys a shot?
Add to that the bizarre decision to substitute only one player on the night. Sure, he covered himself with the fact that that one sub, Courtois, completely changed the game, but why not use the available subs? There were some players who it would have been great to see. In fact, pretty much all of the subs would have been great to see. But once again, Fraser decided subs weren't really necessary, didn't put the first in until 80 minutes had passed, and sat on the rest. He may have a future as a good coach, but he still needs to learn about managing a game.
Minda wins a category! Oswaldo Minda got another yellow card on the night, taking his season total to 13. He lead the league in this category, with Diego Chara the only other player in double figures with 10. Alright! A Chivas player won a category! Oh, yellow cards aren't really a good accomplishment?
In all seriousness, I have no problem with Minda's penchant for picking up yellow cards. It is a fact of life at defensive midfielder, and his job was to play on the edge. What's remarkable is that he never picked up a red card. Well done for getting the most yellows in the league and yet never getting a red card. He played on the edge as well as we can expect.
Can Agudelo rebound in 2013? It isn't Agudelo's fault he was in and out of the lineup after joining Chivas, had terrible service, and played out of position most of the year. Can he turn his late goal into positive momentum heading into 2013? He tweeted yesterday that he would probably train in London at some point during the offseason (although so did Joseph, so who knows what that really means) and his stock is at its lowest since he broke through in the 2010 playoffs. It is up to him to put the work in for 2013, and for the club to stock some talent around him. But hopefully he can put this season behind him, like the rest of the returning players, and make a big improvement next year.
Speaking of returning players...This has to be the big question hanging over the season. How much roster turnover will we see in the offseason? Will some good players also depart? How many players who featured today will be in the lineup in March 2013 for the Goats? These and many other questions will be what we'll be watching in the offseason. Stick with us.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!