CARSON, Calif. — Though it was far too early to label Sunday’s match as a must-win for rebuilt-again Chivas USA, new manager José Luis Sánchez Solá and his players knew the club desperately needed a victory.
To build morale. To offer optimism. To keep pace in the Western Conference.
Kicking off the season with two losses – at home for that matter – would have been demoralizing for a group Sánchez Solá time and time again said needed something positive to build upon. Amid a flurry of transactions in preseason training camp, “El Chelís” laid a foundation, which Chivas USA protected Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 victory against FC Dallas at the Home Depot Center.
READ: Chivas USA use second-half surge to push past FC Dallas
“Thank God because this gives us credibility,” Sánchez Solá told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Any athlete who competes needs these results. It makes you feel alive. We have a lot of faults, but the only one I don’t allow is for us to stop fighting. We can’t hang our heads for anything. It was another demonstration, with us down a goal on our own pitch and the time constricted, we raised our heads from the dead.”
Juan Agudelo, who didn’t start last week in an underwhelming 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, scored the equalizer in the 68th minute after it appeared that Dallas would sneak off with a road win. Chivas USA virtually outplayed their opponent for most of the first half; a stark difference from what took place against Columbus in the opener.
Agudelo didn’t downplay the significance.
“It was huge,” Agudelo said. “A lot of people underestimate our ability. We understand that and we know what we have to do. We just have to play and do what we’ve been doing our whole lives. We have to play soccer.
“It says a lot about our heart and how we work as a team. The biggest thing now is that we are capable of doing those things in games we are capable or working harder in the future.”
Another loss would have undoubtedly dealt a damaging blow to Sánchez Solá’s efforts at the helm, but Oswaldo Minda’s go-ahead goal in the 76th minute eased some tension on the bench.
“Yes, we needed this,” said Giovani Casillas, who added the final goal on a stoppage-time breakaway. “This is going to give us a lot of confidence. We needed to win. The loss last week hurt us.”