Playing in Colorado’s altitude can typically cause visiting teams to wear down. But on Saturday night, Chivas USA had the opposite formula at work.
Los Rojiblancos grew stronger and much more active as their match against the host Rapids at wore on and were able to salvage a point because of it. Juan Pablo Ángel’s late equalizer helped Chivas gain a point and stay ahead of the Rapids with a 1-1 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Still, the point was tempered somewhat by knowing that eventually, results like these will not be good enough.
“The mood is realism,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We know where we are and we know what we need to do and we’ll take the point, but certainly our realization is we have to start winning more games.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Colorado 1, Chivas USA 1
The point inched the Goats up the table. Chivas USA are within 10 points of a playoff spot, chasing both the Galaxy and Vancouver (who sit even on 37 points) as well as hard-charging FC Dallas (32), but with five games in hand over Dallas and four against the other duo.
Still, with Colorado leading for a bulk of the match Saturday, a point was certainly more of a positive than a negative.
“In our situation, we look at every game now as a game where we want to get three points,” Fraser said. “We would have loved to have gotten more, but certainly, given the way the game went, we’ll take the point and move on.”
Brian Mullan gave the hosts a lead with just 19 minutes gone. Mullan took the ball away from Shalrie Joseph on the edge of the penalty area and ripped a shot into the back of the net from about 12 yards out.
The play was perhaps a bit indicative of how the visitors came out in the first half. Even making changes to the starting lineup from a week ago – Alejandro Moreno and Casey Townsend replaced Nick LaBrocca and Miller Bolaños – did not create enough sparks.
“When we were able to get the ball forward, it was somewhat as we expected – Alejandro winning balls and Casey making some good runs,” Fraser said. “Early on, the play of the entire team could have been better, but they kept plugging away at it and it got better as the game wore on.”
The match seemed to change for the better with a pair of substitutions. Tristan Bowen replaced Moreno just after the hour while Ángel came on for Juan Agudelo in the 72nd minute.
“When Tristan came in, he gave us a lift, he gave us a threat to get in behind on the left-hand side and he had gotten in a couple of times and had hit a couple of decent balls,” Fraser said.
In the 83rd minute, Bowen broke free down the left flank and laid a ball across the penalty area. Colorado ‘keeper Matt Pickens dived but could not stop the ball, which Ángel easily poked into the back of the net to level terms.
“Once again, [Bowen] was able to put himself into a dangerous spot and he put a great ball in and, obviously, Juan knows where to be in front of the goal,” Fraser said. “That was the result of really starting to get on the front foot and starting to impose ourselves a little bit.”
Chivas finished the match stronger than they began it, and while it wasn't the three points they wanted, it was progress, which could give the team a bit of confidence when they begin preparations for Seattle’s visit on Aug. 25.
“The work for the day is done,” Fraser said. “We have another challenge ahead of us next week and we need to move past it and continue to grow and continue to get better and be ready for another stiff test.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.