Chivas USA started the 2014 MLS regular season on a strong note, beating the Chicago Fire 3-2 at home Sunday afternoon. After a scoreless first half, the teams shared a veritable goal explosion in the second half, with Erick Torres starting the season off right with a penalty kick goal he earned himself in the 56th minute. Chivas' top draft pick in 2014, Thomas McNamara, scored his first career pro goal just four minutes later off a nice pass into the box from Leandro Barrera, putting Chivas ahead 2-0.
But Chicago battled back, and their coach Frank Yallop made two key adjustments, bringing on Benji Joya and Quincy Amarikwa, and both players scored by the 70th minute to tie the game at 2-2. It appeared the same errors that had plagued Chivas in the past were coming back to haunt the so-called new vintage Goats.
Credit to the team, however, as they persisted in trying to fight for a winner, which they ultimately gained in the 88th minute when Bobby Burling, of all players, scored the winner off a Mauro Rosales corner.
All in all, it was a mix of players new to the team and the handful of mainstays who contributed to the win, and it was a promising first sign for a new season.
After the match, there was one clear theme from Chivas: looking ahead. Though players acknowledged the past, including players like Dan Kennedy and Carlos Bocanegra, who have had varying experience with the recent failures of the club, the mantra to look ahead and consider this team a brand new entity was clear.
Even if the club is keeping the Chivas USA name for a final season, the mindset is treating this 2014 team like a new entity. For the sake of motivating the players currently with the squad, it appears to have been effective through at least the first week.
Their next test should be a good one, as yet another team with a new coach, the Vancouver Whitecaps, come to visit next Sunday. Though projections were mixed concerning the Whitecaps heading into the season, they crushed the New York Red Bulls 4-1 in their season opener yesterday.
Small sample size? Of course. But so is Chivas'.
We'll have more coverage of this game in the coming days. First, what did you think of the game? Leave a comment below!