SEATTLE – Dan Kennedy's goalkeeping has consistently preserved results for Chivas USA throughout the season, but in the 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, he got a little help.
After starting the match strong, the Rojiblancos faltered under some immense pressure but got a break that helped carry them to a 0-0 result on the road.
In the 18th minute, referee Kevin Stott called a penalty on Chivas after Michael Umaña’s outstretched hand made contact with the ball. A minute later, Seattle midfielder Alvaro Fernandez stepped up and fired the ball off the left post and onto Kennedy's back before watching it bounce wide.
However, the sequence helped stiffen the visitor's defense.
“We were re-energized after the penalty,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said after the match. “It was huge. In this arena, if you go down a goal with the crowd, it’s extremely difficult to feel like you’re going to get back into the game. To get out of that without giving up a goal was fantastic; it gave the team new energy throughout the half.”
After the miss, Chivas appeared more confident defensively.
Repeatedly the Rojiblancos back line was able to make diving stops to prevent the Sounders from registering chances on goal. When the Sounders did break through, Kennedy was there—his finest effort coming in the 77th minute when he saved a Fernandez shot with his knee.
“It was a well-played ball across," Kennedy said. "(Nate Jaqua) crossed it and was able to get it up and over me while keeping it in play, which is hard to do. The best that I could do was cover angles and stay big and not commit to anything till I saw it, and fortunately that was enough.”
Chivas may have counted themselves lucky once again when Stott failed to call a penalty against them in the 89th minute after David Junior Lopes appeared to clip Lamar Neagle in the box. Still, Fraser admitted that for his team to remain true playoff contenders—they currently occupy the final Wild Card berth—their focus must remain on improving their overall game and not rely on their current No. 1.
“I can’t wait till we’re not talking about Dan, but he was fantastic,” said Fraser. “He’s had way too much to do at points throughout the year, but he’s done his job superbly and his confidence just grows and within in our team that breathes confidence, but we need to get to a point where Dan is the last person we talk about.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano