Chivas USA’s dramatic win over the Carolina RailHawks on Tuesday night may have pushed them through to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, but it certainly didn’t come easily.
Juan Pablo Ángel scored on a penalty kick in stoppage time after the teams played an even first 90 minutes, with Juan Agudelo and Carolina’s Mike Palacio trading goals before Ángel’s decisive strike after a hand ball on the RailHawks’ Gale Agbossoumonde.
“Absolutely, we started out on the front foot and put ourselves in some good situations early,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We didn’t capitalize quite as early as we would have liked, but still we got into the half 1-0 and we came out in the second half and didn’t play as well. But really credit to the group for after giving up the goal, really turning it on and becoming quite dangerous over the last couple of minutes.”
Despite controlling the match early on, the Rojiblancos were put under considerable pressure in the second half as Carolina pushed for the equalizer. After the RailHawks snatched that goal via Palacios, the match appeared to be a carbon copy of the team’s Open Cup victory a week prior against the LA Galaxy, but the Rojiblancos were determined not to suffer the same fate.
Following the tying goal, Chivas began to push forward looking to steal a victory late. The barrage included a sequence that forced Carolina goalkeeper Ray Burse to make several sterling saves before Ángel’s penalty kick goal put the Rojiblancos ahead for good.
“We were very much on our heels for a little bit, they came out with a very determined effort in the second half, put us under quite a bit of pressure and we didn’t play as well starting in the second half,” Fraser said. “I’m really proud of the way once we gave up the goal to really get ourselves on the front foot again and created quite a few opportunities and ultimately to score one.”
Waiting for Chivas in the quarterfinals are USL side Charlotte Eagles, who will take on the Rojiblancos at the Home Depot Center Track and Field Stadium on June 26. The Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating NASL club San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 in extra time on Tuesday evening.
“We’re three whole games away, so to even talk about trophies is probably a bit ridiculous,” Fraser said. “We need to focus on our next game and come out and play better over longer stretches of time as there is still a lot to be worked on. In a single elimination tournament, the most important thing is that we win, but we know to ultimately win, we have to get better and better every week.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.