CARSON, Calif. – In a season filled with valleys, this was the lowest low for Chivas USA.
The second win in the José Luis “Guero” Real era appeared within reach when the Rojiblancos – already holding a 1-0 lead – went up a man with 10 minutes remaining, but they were instead ambushed by the FC Dallas counterattack and lost 3-1 Wednesday night at StubHub Center.
All losses count the same in the standings, yet this one had to be more painful than the other 13.
“We felt the victory was very close,” Real told reporters. “It was the opposite of what we’ve been dealing with in games, with one more player instead of being down a man. But we were too confident, as if we had already won the match.”
When FC Dallas midfielder Jackson jumped into Carlos Bocanegra to draw a second yellow card and immediate ejection in the 81st minute, the Goats seemed to lose their edge. They had already looked somewhat demoralized following Blas Pérez’s fortunate equalizer 10 minutes prior, when the ball deflected off a Chivas USA defender and rolled past a frozen Dan Kennedy.
The Rojiblancos, who had earned five red cards in their previous five games, were in unfamiliar territory.
“When we went a man up, I thought we were going to put ourselves in a very good position to win that game,” Kennedy told reporters. “Maybe we looked a little too quickly to send men forward and get on the attack, and they broke us down on a couple of quick counters. There you saw it, 3-1. Painful.”
The late-game collapse spoiled what would have been an even more memorable return for midfielder Bryan de la Fuente, who broke a scoreless tie in the first half with his first career goal. De la Fuente, who made his MLS debut with Chivas USA in 2010, signed with the club earlier in the week and filled in for the suspended Tristan Bowen.
There was no happy ending, though. David Ferreira got behind the defense to score the game-winner in the 86th minute and Ramon Nunez tacked on another with a scintillating bender past Kennedy in the 90th. Chivas USA, even with the man advantage, hardly threatened in the final minutes.
“It’s tough. It feels a little bit like the rug got pulled back from under us,” Bocanegra said. “It’s a tough one to take on the chin, especially at home.”
Last-place Chivas USA lost a lead for the fifth time in their last seven matches, a stretch that has seen them pick up only four points.
“To win, we need to manage the game better,” Real said. “Other teams in this league know how to handle the rhythm, especially when they’re ahead. With our youth, we lack experience and intelligence on the pitch.”