In the eyes of head coach José Luis “Guero” Real, the defining moment in Chivas USA’s gut-wrenching 2-2 draw in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon came some 10 minutes before the dramatic game-tying goal.
The Goats led by one at that time and seemed headed for their first road victory since March 24 thanks to two top-notch scores from rookie Erick “Cubo” Torres. A win appeared in hand when, in the 86th minute, midfielder Tristan Bowen found himself free near the top of the box with only goalkeeper David Ousted to beat. But the late-game sub misfired as teammate Bryan de la Fuente stood unmarked to his left.
Another goal would have sealed the three points but, as it turned out, Chivas USA couldn’t escape. They failed to close once again, losing a lead for the seventh time in nine matches.
“Chivas is getting better game by game,” Real said. “Unfortunately, we missed the most important opportunity when the score was 2-1. Bowen had a big opportunity to score and, at that moment, we lost the opportunity to gain three points.”
There were many crucial moments before Tommy Heinemann netted the equalizer three minutes into stoppage time, but the Rojiblancos weren’t dominant by any means. Captain Dan Kennedy believed his side played well enough to win, though.
“We survived that initial momentum they had and we calmed the game down, but for them to score in the last minute was disheartening,” Kennedy said. “I think there was a foul that could have been called for us that would have ended things late.
“We came in here and fought for a point. This group has been through a lot this year, and we’re still in the mix and competing in games trying to play spoiler. We knew this was a big game for Vancouver and they didn’t get three points.”
Torres continued his recent hot streak, scoring twice in the first 14 minutes to give the Goats a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. He also had two goals last week and raised his season total to six on Sunday.
Yet, the promising 20-year-old striker had to temper his excitement afterward.
“We’re leaving a bit frustrated because we could have left with a favorable result,” Torres said.
The manager, meanwhile, maintained his optimistic attitude.
“The last two matches,” Real said, citing last week’s 3-2 upset of the New York Red Bulls, “are a good indication of what this team can do”