Chivas USA lament missed chances
For the second consecutive home match, Chivas USA fought back from a first-half deficit and came away with valuable points. But Sunday's 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes smacked of missed opportunities for the expansion side.
Chivas USA attackers hit the post, hit the crossbar and squandered close-range scoring chances and let San Jose escape with a point.
"I think it was a nice game but we needed two more points," Chivas USA coach Hans Westerhof said. "I have a feeling that we lost two points. We needed it badly and we had our chances but we gave it away the last five minutes before halftime."
Indeed, Chivas USA controlled large stretches of the first half but goals were again elusive. Right on halftime, San Jose capitalized on lackluster defending. Dwayne De Rosario chipped a pass between Douglas Sequeira and Armando Begines into the Alejandro Moreno's path. Moreno did well to control the ball and slipped it past a helpless Brad Guzan.
"We can't give up goals the way we did," Chivas USA's Ezra Hendrickson said. "It's the (45th) minute of the first half and we let the get a break and let them score. We just can't do that because it's not every time you are going to fight back and get an (equalizer)."
But unlike most other games this season, Chivas USA did not wilt. Hendrickson leveled the score in the 66th minute after slamming home a cross from Ramon Ramirez some seven yards out. The club continued attacking and nearly took the lead on several occasions. In stoppage time Isaac Romo jumped up for a cross but headed the point-blank opportunity wide. Earlier, Hector Cuadros had rattled a free kick off the crossbar.
Perhaps luck is finally starting to shine on Chivas USA.
"The way the season has been going, that's a game that we might have lost because our luck has been that bad," Hendrickson said. "Hopefully, it's a (turning point) and maybe we get some things to go our way and we start to get some victories."
Still, Westerhof lamented the lack of finishing despite throwing caution to the wind.
"We had the initiative and that is important to me," he said. Hendrickson's goal "was good. Then I wanted more. I (had) told the players 'You have to take risks and go for it. You have to score goals.'"
Chivas USA showed its trademark attacking style when Westerhof took out defender Ryan Suarez in favor of striker Arturo Torres, a move that left Begines and Alfonso Loera responsible for San Jose's Moreno and Ronald Cerritos.
It was a calculated gamble that did not come up snake eyes.
"It's always a risk when you play against a team with two quick strikers," Westerhof said. "We played one against one without a libero but we had to do it."
Such a move was something that had to be done, Hendrickson said.
"That's desperation for us," he said. "We know that we cannot afford to lose many more games, especially in our home. When we're at home, we want to win every game. That's what it's going for us to take the playoffs. Tonight we were fortunate to come back and get a tie but that's not something that we're satisfied with. We needed the maximum three points."
Chivas USA now sits on six points, just five back of fourth place Real Salt Lake. Despite having lost nine of their 13 matches, the club has not thrown in the towel.
"I thought we played a really good game tonight. It's going to take hard work from everyone for us to get to the playoffs," Hendrickson said. "We believe it is possible for us to qualify (to the playoffs) and finish in the top four in this conference."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.