Vancouver, British Columbia. Chivas USA nearly won two in a row. Let me write that again: Chivas USA nearly won two in a row. Erick Torres' brace helps to secure an early advantage for the Goats that, unfortunately did not prove to be too much for the Whitecaps to overcome. The Rojiblancos went on to tie, on the road nonetheless, 2-2 against the heavily favored Vancouver home side.
Road points and goal scoring are certainly difficult for the Goats to come by. Statistically, Chivas have managed only one goal in all ten of their road games prior to this evening. Tonight's match against the Whitecaps gave little reason to doubt the continuation of such a trend. However, that's why we play the game.
Erick "Cubo" Torres managed to quickly buck that trend with the match's first two strikes in the 3rd and 14th minutes. Cubo's first happened to be in phenomenal fashion as he delivered a bicycle kick past the Whitecaps' reserve goalkeeper David Ousted. This score could potentially win both MLS' Goal of the Week as well as be in consideration for Goal of the Year. Torres was hardly finished as he scored around ten minutes later in the 14th off an Edgar Mejia assist. These goals proved to be the lead Chivas needed in order to string together their second strait match earning points against playoff-bound squads after defeating the NY Red Bull 3-2 last weekend.
Even Torres' successive early strikes were not enough to sink the Whitecaps' momentum against the Goats. Captain and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy committed a couple errors that led to a much closer contest. The first, which didn't prove to be costly, was a handball that wasn't noticed by the officials in the 59th minute. Fortunately, the Goats escaped disaster until five minutes later when Kennedy attempted to clear a kick by giving it directly to Vancouver's Gershon Koffie. Koffie then squared up and drilled a far shot across the outstretched arms of Kennedy, who was off his line. This made the match much closer than Chivas would've desired after taking the early and formidable lead. The Whitecaps first score then paved the way for reserve forward Tom Heinemann's equalizer in the 3rd minute of stoppage time off an assist from Vancouver's other sub, rookie Erik Hurtado.
Here's what we learned from this week's match:
All hail Cubo! Torres' loan from Chivas Guadalajara was intended to provide both excitement and results for their American counterpart. Little did any of us really know how much of an impact such a player could provide. Since his first MLS appearance on July 17th, Torres has scored 6 goals which include the two from this match. He now leads all MLS players from that time with only Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio's 5 goals being near his vicinity. At this point, there's little reason to doubt Cubo's goal-scoring prowess as well as his profound impact on positively affecting the outcome of the Goats' future matches.
If it works, then...don't fix it. Personnel changes have become both routine and expected from Chivas USA. Both last and this years' squads have consistently been in competition for the most player transactions and appearances in all of MLS. With that said, the Goats fielded a similar starting lineup for both of their last two games. Into these lineups were Julio Morales, Oswaldo Minda and Bobby Burling who were not starting together in any of head coach Jose Luis Real's preceding games. These players, along with Chivas stalwarts Carlos Bocanegra and Dan Kennedy, can hopefully begin to mesh with younger guns such as Torres, Carlos Alvarez, Marky Delgado and new addition Bryan de la Funete to provide a core nucleus of playoff contenders for years to come.
As luck would have it. Soccer, as in all sports and life in general, needs some good luck from time to time. More often than not, the gods of luck have usually not been in the Goats favor. Tonight's officials lack of calling the probable handball positively impacted the match's outcome for the Goats. Going into tonight's game, Chivas has a league high 19 conceded goals within their games' final fifteen minutes. The Whitecaps appeared to take this to heart as they continued to increase the pressure against Chivas throughout the final third. This match was no different for the Goats as they appeared to be incapable of stopping the Whitecaps barrage of possessions, chances and shots on goal throughout the match's last fifteen minutes and stoppage time. Whether it be attributable to luck, lack of focus, preparation or execution, Chivas needs to figure a way to end matches in a similar way that it begins them.
Gathering points continues to resonate as we consider what's next on the schedule's agenda. Is it wishful thinking to even consider a potential victory as they travel to Seattle to meet Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders for Wednesday's mid-week match? Chivas appears poised to turn that proverbial corner and consistently get wins when leading late in the game.
With the season winding down, there's no time like now to start.