Chivas USA won their first competitive match Tuesday since March 30, as they defeated USL PRO side LA Blues 2-1 in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup at Titan Stadium. George Davis gave the Blues the early lead, in the 11th minute, and the Blues fully controlled the first half of the game. But second half goals from Carlos Alvarez and Dan Kennedy (you read that right) brought Chivas back into the lead, and the team's improved performance in the second half helped propel them to the fourth round of the tournament.
After a dire first half, Chivas finally started to get into form in the second half, and Carlos Alvarez showed a few moments of magic to tie the game up in the 53rd minute, dribbling through the center of midfield before sending a pass out wide to Tristan Bowen, who then passed it right back to Alvarez, who was then in the box. Alvarez slotted the shot past goalkeeper Aaron Perez and the Goats were back.
Chivas took the lead for good in the 62nd minute. Miller Bolanos earned a penalty, and captain Kennedy stepped up to take this one (consider that Chivas haven't converted a penalty in a competitive match all season prior to this point). DK made no mistake in grabbing his first career goal, one that has to immediately rank in Chivas USA lore.
(Video from Andrew Watson)
With that, let's discuss a couple of the talking points coming out of the match. Bear in mind that I was trying to watch the game on a stream, and with it failing frequently, I only got to properly watch about 25 percent of the game.
What a night for Kennedy: Lately, I haven't been writing about the remarkable games by Kennedy, not because he hasn't looked good, but because Chivas have played so badly that he's not even been given a chance to keep his team in games. I assumed Patrick McLain would get the start in this game, but Kennedy got the nod, and with no disrespect to McLain, it probably was a really good thing DK started. I counted at least four key saves that he made to keep Chivas in the game, both when they were down and when they went ahead, and of course, he is the first Goat to actually score a PK in a game this season. That he didn't just score a goal but such an important goal in such a key situation is beyond impressive. No, DK didn't do what Moises Munoz did for America in the Liga MX final over the weekend, but when he was given a chance to score, he took it, and converted. For all the drama surrounding this team, one thing is clear: Dan Kennedy is absolutely vital to Chivas USA.
Serious lineup, same tactics: I suppose it is all relative, since Chelis plays a new lineup every game, but this was mostly a first-choice lineup, with only the subs being surprise omissions from the starting lineup (Eric Avila, Gabriel Farfan, and Jorge Villafana). Of course, the team played like caca for the first half, and the maddening tendency of Chivas to start very slowly and only come into the game around the hour mark held firm once again. Chelís opted for his usual formation, eliciting groans and the rolling of eyes, especially once the Blues took the lead. But with Kennedy starting and with the same defenders as one would see in an MLS match, it did appear Chelís took the game seriously enough to go for a result.
Can Chivas turn this into positive momentum? Chivas will have another Open Cup game June 12, and hopefully they can continue to make a run in the tournament, but in the meantime, the Goats have an MLS match, Saturday against the Seattle Sounders. Seattle has their USOC game tomorrow, but they, like Chivas, are coming off a rough loss in league play. Still, the Sounders have been playing much better than Chivas of late. Can Chivas regain the momentum they had in March, or will the Open Cup be the consolation tournament for Chivas once more, as it was in 2010 and 2012? Hopefully, they can build on this win, work on playing well for a full 90 minutes, and get another result Saturday before turning back to the Open Cup.
Looking ahead: In the Open Cup, Chivas will play the winner of Wednesday's match between the Carolina RailHawks and the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy's head coach Bruce Arena and main assistant coach Dave Sarachan haven't traveled to North Carolina for the match. I think given their druthers, Chivas would probably rather face the RailHawks, but the Galaxy are still favorites. We'll see what happens Wednesday. Either way, Chivas will be the "road" team in the next round, playing at either the HDC or the RailHawks stadium, where they played last year.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!