CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after a defensive miscommunication allowed FC Dallas to score a late game-winning goal in a 2-1 home defeat on Saturday night.
The decisive play came in the 85th minute between right back Michael Lahoud and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Lahoud appeared to step off of a ball after being ordered to do so by Kennedy, but it allowed Dallas midfielder Jackson Gonçalves to swoop in and score the winner.
So apparent was the miscommunication that after the match both Kennedy and Lahoud each had different explanations for what the Chivas USA 'keeper shouted at his defender.
According to Kennedy, he yelled “leave it” and then “away,” but Lahoud said he heard the exact opposite commands. While neither was sure about what was said, they were both certain that the the play was a major letdown that clearly cost the Rojiblancos some points.
“It happens real quickly,” said Kennedy after the match. “I wish I gave him a clear shout earlier, but its hindsight and it’s always easier to deal with things in hindsight. It’s just one of those plays that happen throughout a game. ... It’s just frustrating.”
The error was a difficult one for Lahoud to deal with, as the defender was responsible for equalizing the match in the 71st minute, firing a shot from 30 yards out that trickled past Kevin Hartman for the goal.
A converted midfielder who has spent much of the season playing right back, Lahoud is quick to chalk the play up as a learning experience, but admits that it was a play that was decisive in preventing Chivas USA from earning a point from the match.
“It’s something that as a player who is new to that position, I’m definitely going to learn … [that] when in doubt, to trust your instincts and be able to do things that win games,” Lahoud told reporters after the match. “Although it’s easy to accept it as just a miscommunication, we felt that play let the team down and there was no doubt in my mind that we deserved to win that game and it felt like a game stolen from us.”
While the miscommunication was the story, it didn’t help the Goats’ cause that they once again struggled to find their form in front of net. Despite controlling much of the second half, Chivas USA were unable to break through until Lahoud’s effort from distance.
Following the defeat, head coach Robin Fraser admitted that his team struggled when it came to finishing.
“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed," he said. "If you look at the flow of the game, we did a pretty decent job of controlling most of the game. There’s an issue of precision that needs to happen in the final third in order to score goals. When we’ve done that, we’ve been effective and tonight, I felt like we were not precise in the final third.”
Chivas USA will now look ahead to next week, when they hit the road to face a Philadelphia Union side winless in its last three matches. However, the sting of this match will continue to resonate with the Rojiblancos and the team is aware that there is no one to blame but themselves.
“I would like to say that we deserved more than a loss,” said Kennedy dejectedly, “but we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, so it’s just disappointing.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano