Chivas USA capped off their road schedule Wednesday night with much of the same, conceding two goals early in the second half in yet another loss away from home.
With the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake, the Rojiblancos finished the road portion of their schedule by losing seven of their final eight matches. They managed only seven points from their 17 road games this season, with their only win coming in March. When they were the visiting team this year, Chivas USA were outscored by 25.
The road woes were a major reason why the Goats failed to generate any momentum this season. Those same problems surfaced in the second half Wednesday, but head coach José Luis "Guero" Real believed his players held their own.
“It was an even match,” Real told reporters. “The difference was the penalty. Salt Lake, we all know, are a great team with great players and are well positioned in the standings. We were coming off our worst performance of the season and facing a very strong team, but the penalty was the difference.”
Goalkeeper Tim Melia, making only his third career start, had a number of impressive saves to help the Goats stay in it after Real Salt Lake struck twice in the first seven minutes of the second half. Melia filled in for captain Dan Kennedy, who sat out while nursing a lower abdominal strain.
Chivas USA were resuscitated late when rookie forward Julio Morales, making his first appearance since Sept. 8, scored his second goal of the season just moments after taking the pitch as a substitute in the 76th minute. Morales snapped an ugly drought for the Goats, who had seen opponents score the previous 12 goals without netting one of their own.
“It was a better showing than last week,” defender Carlos Bocanegra told reporters, referring to the 5-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on Oct. 6. “We had a good first half, I thought, and we were moving around.”
Aside from their 4-1 victory at Chicago in late March, the Rojiblancos scored two goals in a road match just one other time. And true to the season-long trend, they struggled to claw their way back after falling behind. They are 1-14-3 when surrendering the first goal this season.
Despite the defeat, the team’s veteran was glad to see improved effort.
“It could have been easy to check it in,” Bocanegra said. “We have nothing to play for at the moment and it was an away game against a good team, but we spoke a bit about it before. We wanted to go out there and enjoy it. It’s been a rough season; we took a butt kicking against the Galaxy and Houston, but we wanted to go out there, enjoy it, play for each other and make the most of these last two games.”