Head coach José Luis "Guero" Real couldn't explain why Chivas USA have raised their level of play against FC Dallas this season, but he did offer an interesting theory following Thursday night's scoreless draw before a sellout crowd at FC Dallas Stadium.
"We wear very similar colors, so we want ours to stand out more," Real told reporters after his side secured its second consecutive draw. " We have a lot of respect for Dallas, but it certainly is more motivating."
The last-place Goats, who, heading into Wednesday had handed second-place Dallas one of its three losses this season, saw their winless streak extend to 12 matches. But they were more than happy to leave town with a positive result. Given the circumstances, their colors did permeate a bit more Thursday.
"We've played them twice and taken four points, so it's a building block," said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who recorded his first shutout of the season.
The Rojiblancos weathered an early barrage and held on late, starting a three-game road swing on a good note. Kennedy made two crucial plays in the final minutes, denying Blas Perez an opportunity to chase down a dangerous ball in the box in the 78th minute and clearing Perez's snap header shortly before the final whistle.
"Dan Kennedy is an amazing goalkeeper," said midfielder Eric Avila, who made his return to Chivas USA after spending more than two weeks in Mexico on trial with parent club CD Guadalajara. "He's an amazing captain who keeps us in a lot of games. He's very experienced so we've got to listen to him coming into games and also during games on how to adjust quickly."
Two draws in a row is a modicum of stability for a club that had previously lost seven consecutive matches. They still have not won an MLS match since March 30, but the lineup was relatively similar to the one that earned a draw against New England a week ago. Avila's return has re-energized the offense's creativity and the imminent addition of veteran Carlos Bocanegra, who signed earlier this week, figures to stabilize the club further.
For Avila, who spent three and a half seasons with FC Dallas, the signs might be pointing in the right direction.
"It's really hard to take a point here," Avila said. "It's difficult playing here, so getting a point is a good result for us."