For a struggling Chivas USA side, a lead is a terrible thing to waste.
A late Danny Mwanga goal doomed Chivas USA’s bid at a crucial road point in a 3-2 loss against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. The loss was the third straight for the team and the second time in three matches they coughed up a one-goal lead, leaving Goats head coach Robin Fraser to rue yet another missed opportunity for his team.
“The biggest area of improvement for us is we’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Fraser said. “We’ve done it game in and game out. We’re giving up way too many leads and either tying or losing games that I think we should win.”
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Chivas USA also relinquished a 1-0 lead against the Houston Dynamo on June 11, doomed that night by an own-goal from defender Heath Pearce. Saturday's loss included no such obvious missteps, but the Goats still allowed the Union to erase an early goal from Michael Umaña and eventually build a 2-1 lead before Justin Braun appeared to help Chivas salvage a draw with a nifty finish in the 77th minute.
But then came Mwanga’s knockout blow in the 82nd minute, a strike from distance that left Fraser and the Goats wondering how they lost a game that turned out to be a wide-open affair.
“It’s never good. If it’s a wide-open game, then somebody is not organized enough defensively,” Fraser said. “Certainly that’s not optimal and I think we weren’t quite as good as we needed to be and as a result the game got wide open.”
There were still positives in the loss, highlighted by the fourth goal of the season for Braun and his first since a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls on May 15.
The short-lived equalizer came off a splendid through ball from near midfield by Jorge Flores, with Braun shrugging off Union defender Danny Califf before flicking a right-footed shot past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón to draw Chivas level with their hosts.
“I saw [Flores] get the ball and I just tried to make a good run. He played it well for me,” Braun said. “He put it right where it needed to be and I was able to get on the end of it and kind of put it over the ‘keeper to get the goal."
Despite the goal, though, Braun and the Goats walked away from PPL park with only questions of what should have been this season.
“The past couple games we’ve given up a couple of leads,” defender Zarek Valentin said. “And obviously if you look at that, if we keep [the opponents] at zero for the rest of the game, we pull out some wins and our spot in the table is a lot different.”