Chivas USA both had a good game and a poor game Saturday against the New England Revolution. On one hand, they played to a 1-1 draw, snapping their seven-game losing streak in MLS play and avoiding history as the longest losing streak in the team's history. So in that respect, it was a success.
On the other hand, they lead 70 minutes, before conceding a late goal by substitute Chad Barrett to miss out on the win. As a reminder, Chivas haven't won a game in 11, their last one coming all the way back in March. So they could have really done something great on the night, and instead, they've done something pretty good.
Both teams started the match out with intent, perhaps a little scattered but at a high tempo. The game was pretty back and forth through the first 20 minutes, and Laurent Courtois gave Chivas the breakthrough in the 18th minute when he received a bouncing ball and blasted it past Bobby Shuttleworth (it was apparently deflected, something that those in attendance say was clear, although the TV feed did not really indicate that with any clarity). Tristan Bowen narrowly missed another goal later in the first half, but Chivas seemed to end the first half on a high note.
Over the course of the second half, New England pressed harder and harder for a goal, and Chivas bunkered for nearly all of the final 35 minutes of the game. Although New England seemed to miss the killer instinct most of the night, they turned it on late, and despite Dan Kennedy stepping up to make a barrage of saves, Barrett's goal, which squirted past DK in the 88th minute, gave the visitors a share of the points.
With that, let's go over some of the talking points:
Kennedy steps up, but can't manage clean sheet: DK made seven saves on the night, most of them coming in the second half, when the Revs kept him very busy. As ever, on some of the stops, you can say that he was largely or exclusively responsible for preventing New England from scoring earlier. But on Barrett's goal, Kennedy slid over too far and didn't anticipate the forward's exact positioning, allowing Barrett to take an odd swipe at the ball that was just enough to get the ball over the line.
So is it safe to say that Kennedy made a mistake? Yes. Since he has to be aggressive at all times to cover for his teammates' mistakes, Kennedy can get caught out at times. Usually, he recovers or the opponent loses nerve and can't punish him, but in this case, he couldn't scramble back quite enough. I think it is a bummer that Chivas didn't get the luck their way and find a way to keep that elusive clean sheet and pick up a win, but I also realize that given the run of play in the second half, an equalizer looked increasingly likely.
Real needs to keep tweaking his game plan: Chivas played much better in this game than they have the previous two, and that is of course a good sign that Jose Luis Real's coaching is starting to pay dividends. I think he still needs to tweak it to find the perfect formula, but he's getting there. To be fair, he's essentially implemented a system completely opposite of Chelís': Attack early, try to get a goal, then mostly sit back and absorb the opponent's waves of attack. There are teams who can do this well, but when Chivas concede possession too easily, they give their opponents plenty of ways to build a momentum and really hammer them before the game ends. I think that if Chivas try to push more on the attack (maybe not to Chelís' standards, but more) they can prevent the bend-but-don't-break style that keeps hurting them, and they may be able to do the seemingly-impossible: score multiple goals in a game and win.
Courtois, Villafaña showed bright moments in attack: Jorge Villafana started the game off so very strongly, after he realized that New England right back Ryan Guy isn't really a defender and started schooling him on the flank. He had a barrage of terrific crosses in the first half that should have led to assists, except as usual there weren't any teammates ready to send them in goal. Likewise, Laurent Courtois did a good job helping out in defense, but an even better job pushing up and trying to link up on Chivas' attack. That he got the goal was a good reward for his shift on the night. When these players are on, they are quite good, and they both helped Chivas earn a well-deserved point on the night.
Following the match, Courtois announced on twitter (locked account) that this was his last game with the team. So his good efforts tonight are the capper on his time as a Goat, and perhaps on his playing career overall. It has to be bittersweet.
Looking ahead: Chivas play Thursday (that's the 4th of July!) against FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas. I'm not sure what the weather's been like there, but even with the Southern California heat wave, the Goats are likely to feel the heat in Texas, and FCD will likely be keen to crush Chivas after Chivas won handily in their previous meeting.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!