Chivas USA entered the second game of a three-game road trip riding the high of two straight matches having earned points. Although they were both ties, the Goats definitely appear to be on an upward swing. Sunday's match was no different, with yet another point earned in a 1-1 draw against the heavily favored Montreal Impact. After taking a scoreless draw into the break, midfielder Eric Avila struck a beautiful shot, off his own rebound in the 55th minute, to give the Goats the lead. However, substitute midfielder Patrice Bernier was able to equalize the score on a penalty kick, off a Mario de Luna foul in the box, in the 80th minute. The score would remain equal through three-plus additional minutes of stoppage time, despite a Montreal side desperate for a winner.
With that, let's look at some of the keys coming out of the game:
All you need is one: That's exactly what Chivas was thinking after Avila's goal in the beginning of the second half. Opta Jack even tweeted that Chivas had only lost "one of six" matches after taking the lead (of course, that one game was the last time they had a lead, against New England). This statistic was most definitely in the minds of Rojiblancos' fans when the squad secured the match's first goal. Problems soon began to materialize when the Impact didn't buy into Opta's probability statistics. Numerous attacks and shots on goal from Marco Di Vaio, Daniele Paponi, Sanna Nyassi and Bernier kept the Goats and All-Star goalkeeper Dan Kennedy on their toes. Fortunately for the Goats, Kennedy's seven saves proved to be enough to secure the point on the road.
Imbalance in the numbers: After securing a lead, the statistics still showed how Chivas may be encountering some imminent difficulties. The Goats were outshot by 10 attempts on goal after trying only 8 compared to the Impact's 18. More importantly, and directly related to that significant shot differential, was Montreal's edge in possession. Chivas was only able to control the ball a mere 40.4 percent of the game when compared to the Impact's 59.6 percent. This lopsided time of possession was the key to both ball control and defensive pressure throughout the game.
These negative statistics were exhibited most prominently in the final twenty minutes of the game when Chivas, in spite of utilizing three valuable substitutes in Julio Morales, Tristan Bowen and Bobby Burling, were unable to generate any form of sustained offensive pressure on Montreal. Instead, the Goats appeared to drop back, dig in and attempt to secure the one-goal lead. As evident by the final score, Head Coach Jose Luis Real's plan could not guarantee the victory.
Blue skies: After a seven-match losing streak, three straight points in three games is assuredly a turn in the right direction. This is especially the case when considering the last two matches were both on the road as well as against heavily favored playoff-bound opponents. Tying FC Dallas and the Montreal Impact is a moral victory that has certainly spurred the team's confidence going into Philadelphia to face the Union on Friday.
Chivas' defense is now formidable under Real's tenure, giving up only six goals in five games. Carlos Borja, who picked up a yellow card, was all over the field and played an instrumental role in minimizing the shots on Kennedy. The same certainly can be said for midfielder Marky Delgado who has yet to see a loss in any of his three starts. These players, along with Avila and Gabriel Farfan, are welcome additions to the squad with more reinforcements on the way. Are you there yet, Carlos Bocanegra and Caleb Calvert? Regardless of when they or others arrive, Chivas are quickly evolving into a more competitive team.
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