A three-city, 10-day road swing was supposed to further complicate things for last-place Chivas USA, who last won a league match on March 30. But it appears to have done the exact opposite.
Through two stops in their road trip, the Goats have proven they still have some fight in them, the latest indication coming Sunday night in a 1-1 draw against Eastern Conference leaders Montreal. Chivas USA were in line to snap a 12-game winless run at Stade Saputo, but conceded a penalty kick equalizer with 10 minutes remaining.
Still, they extended their unbeaten streak to three games and at least seem to be playing better defensively.
FULL BOX SCORE AND MATCH STATISTICS
“To come out and put in that kind of gritty performance is something to be proud of for the guys,” captain Dan Kennedy told reporters. “We were a little bit tired, which led to a mental mistake and cost us a penalty and the three points, but before the game we were thinking we needed to make this a good contest and we surely did that.”
Chivas USA, who have allowed the most goals in MLS this season, limited the damage against Montreal, whose 31 goals lead the league. They tied FC Dallas earlier in the week for Kennedy’s first shutout of the season.
According to head coach José Luis “Guero” Real, the Rojiblancos have undoubtedly raised their level of play against high-quality competition.
“Our team was in top level, too,” Real told reporters Sunday.
Chivas USA, through all of their struggles the last three months, weren’t expected to grab points this week. But by doing so, they have created a glimmer of hope in advance of the impending arrival of new acquisition Carlos Bocanegra. The other recent addition, midfielder Eric Avila, also had an impact Sunday.
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“I was away from the team for a bit, but I’m happy to be back with the team and playing again,” said Avila, who scored the opening goal in the 55th minute. “Scoring a goal felt really good. The thing is just to help my team; it’s all I care about. Scoring a goal was a bonus for me, but it felt really good.”
Chivas USA had dropped their previous five road matches prior to earning the two draws in the past week. Three of their next four games are away from home, including Friday at Philadelphia.
“Every point is important in this league,” Kennedy said. “We’re at a stage where we’re growing up under our new coach. There’s been a lot of change, so you can see each game we’re growing a little bit.”
Blair Angulo covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com.