CARSON, Calif. – Three minutes. That's how much time stood between Chivas USA and their first win in 11 league matches.
It proved too long.
In the 88th minute, Chad Barrett turned home a cross at the far post to relegate the Goats to a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution on Saturday night at StubHub Center. Over the course of their winless streak, Chivas USA have lost nine and drawn two. They prop up the Western Conference with 12 points from 16 games.
Despite the “heartbreaking” manner of the result as per captain Dan Kennedy, the team views the latest draw as a step in the correct direction, and it marked new coach José Luis Real's first point in Major League Soccer.
“A tie's a good step forward,” Kennedy said. “It was a real building block. All in all, to take into consideration in three, four weeks now we've completely remodeled this team in terms of formation and tactics. You can tell that we're adjusting. We're improving on our tactics.”
Evidence of the improvement came in the first half. Laurent Courtois, making his first start since March 10, opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a walloped, albeit deflected, shot. Chivas USA felt in control.
“For me, I was happy with the first half,” Real said. “We had the game, and we let it go."
The coach was less pleased with the second stanza, when he said New England's substitutions outperformed his. Initially, Real planned to send defender Bobby Burling into the match and shake up the team's tactics, but had to demur with two of his starters struggling.
“Now it's about putting not just 45 minutes of that play together but 90,” Kennedy said. “I was pretty happy with the performance; obviously the result's heartbreaking just because you give up a goal late in the game.”
The manner of the equalizer also left a foul taste. With three points in sight for the first time since March 30, Chivas USA sat back deep to defend its one-goal lead. Diego Fagundez hit a cross that had Kennedy backtracking across his area. Barrett met the ball at the far post under pressure from Marco Delgado.
“Marky clears it off him, and I think it literally hits Chad, hits Marky, hits Chad and then as I'm coming across it sneaks between my legs and goes it,” Kennedy said. “That's probably one of the luckiest goals that's ever been scored on me in this league. It was crazy. I don't know how it went in still.”
In any case, the goal meant that three points became one.
With the team rebuilding under Real, Chivas will focus on consistency and holding onto leads when they do come. Up next is a three-game road stint, with visits to FC Dallas, the Montreal Impact and the Philadelphia Union.
“We need to get comfortable playing with that lead, and don't let it affect the way that we sit – continue to try to play,” Kennedy said. “We've got to be courageous.”