It's been quite some time since the love was flowing in Chivatown. - USA TODAY Sports
Goats win! Goats win!
The last time Chivas USA won a competitive match, it was July 29, 2012. That's 224 days. On Sunday, that winless streak was snapped, as Chivas came from behind to beat FC Dallas 3-1 at the HDC. It was a performance that showed that indeed, Chivas had fight, and could persevere to give the Chelís era its first win.
After a disjointed first half, in which both sides had half-chances but could not convert anything, and the overall rhythm of the game was poor, both teams picked up play to start the second half. It looked like Chivas were in for a repeat of last week when David Ferreira beat Miller Bolanos on a dribble on the left flank, then blew by Joaquin Velazquez and beat Dan Kennedy on a tough angle to put the visitors up 1-0 in the 57th minute. The second half was marked by increasingly open play by both teams, and Chivas weathered a couple more Dallas chances, prompting big saves from Kennedy, until the 68th minute. Walter Vilchez sent a long ball to Juan Agudelo from the halfway line, and Agudelo took the ball, ran between two closing defenders in the box, pulled Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez to the side and hit Chivas' first goal of the 2013 season to tie the game.
Then, in the 76th minute, Oswaldo Minda, seeing his first action of 2013, scored the winner when he intercepted a pass between Je-Vaughn Watson and George John, turned and beat Fernandez on a nice finish. Minda wasn't known for his shooting ability in 2012, but perhaps he has turned over a new leaf.
The Goats got the capper in the 93rd, in a reversal of sorts from last week's result, when Eric Avila, Edgar Mejia and Giovani Casillas led a 3-on-1 counterattack the length of the field. Avila took it through the middle, then passed it to Mejia on the left in the box, and Mejia switched it back over on the right to Casillas, who opened his pro competitive scoring account with the goal.
With that, let's discuss some of the talking points coming out of the match:
Goats didn't give up: Last week, Chelís highlighted the fight his team showed throughout the course of the game despite the result. Although most of the players are new, 2012 Chivas lost the will to fight when going down more often than not, and instilling that sense in them this season had to be a priority for the team's collective psyche. I had the feeling that Chivas would get steamrolled again after Ferreira's goal, but I was wrong. The sense of doom did not settle in with the group, and they were eager to reverse the result. It seems like sports 101, but it already looks like the group wants to work hard and fight for a result, even when they go down, and that has to bode well for the team moving forward. As with last week, one win does not a season make, and there will surely be ups and downs to come, regardless of the team's mentality. Still, having the game not go their way didn't sap the players' resolve, and that's a great sign.
Goals, goals, goals! The long-suffering fans had to wait 157 minutes this season to see their first goal at home, but once they got one, they got three whole goals in a game. I know comparing last season to this isn't really fair, but Chivas only scored nine goals at home in 17 games last season. Today, they scored three. That's great!
And it was great to see who scored the goals. I wrote recently that Agudelo needs to step up this season, and today's goal looks like a very good start. Minda seemed like the odd man out coming into the season, despite his performances last year, and he started his campaign with a customary yellow card. Still, he provided much-needed steel and physicality in the midfield, and the fact that he got the winning goal is a considerable surprise, but a great way to start his second season with the Goats. And Casillas showed promise in his start last week, but coming off the bench this week and helping the team create chances at the end of the match looked like a suitable role for him, and getting a goal has to help his confidence.
What didn't work: Not to rain on the parade (no pun intended) but it certainly wasn't a flawless performance. A gutty performance, yes. A way to start proving the haters wrong, of course. But the team still struggled for nearly an hour. I think the opponent worked out in their favor, because let's face it, a lot of teams in the league would not have allowed Chivas to hang around in the game so long, or they would have built an insurmountable lead and held a stout defense for longer than FCD. A team can only play who they are scheduled to play, and Chivas did enough to get the result, and that's laudable. But the team still needs to work on building good chances, and actually converting said chances. In particular, Tristan Bowen and Velazquez had early chances that didn't go in, and Bolaños had a great chance just into the second half that led to a meek shot right at Fernandez. Their finishing sharpened up when they absolutely needed it, but they still need to work on executing their offense.
DK steps up, once again: With the scoreline, and the veritable deluge of goals at the HDC, the offense will likely dominate headlines, but Kennedy really helped keep Chivas in the game. He had six saves on the game, and in two games already leads the league in that category. He made a couple of huge saves in the second half that helped keep Dallas from building their lead, and his play gave his teammates the ability to rally back from a manageable deficit. I think you would be hard-pressed to find many other keepers who could make all the saves DK did in order to keep his team in it, but he did, and the Goats continue to benefit from his fantastic play.
Looking ahead: Next week? Oh, it's just a little SuperClasico on Sunday. The Galaxy had a bye this week in MLS play, but will have a key CONCACAF Champions League match at home on Wednesday. They will put their all into that match in order to advance in the tournament, but no doubt will the Galaxy be a much tougher test for Chivas than either Columbus or Dallas so far this season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!