The road winless streak continued, but Chivas USA figure to be all smiles on the trip back to Southern California.
Long before Erick “Cubo” Torres scored the game-tying goal in the 79th minute to propel the Rojiblancos to a rewarding 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday night, they had already shown head coach Wilmer Cabrera enough improvement.
“More than the result, it’s the performance,” Cabrera told reporters. “We rebounded from a performance that didn’t belong to us last week. That’s very positive, especially here against a very good, talented team. We outplayed them and showed personality by coming back. We showed character. That’s important for what is coming for us.”
Chivas USA rebounded from a dreadful 3-0 loss to the rival LA Galaxy a week prior, outshooting Portland 13-8 and holding an edge in possession. They last won a road game in March of 2013 and haven’t earned three points since Week 1 of this season, but the progress was blatant Saturday.
“For me, looking back at how things went last week, to completely turn around, put that behind us and put out this performance, that’s what’s really important,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told reporters.
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Torres netted his MLS-leading fifth goal of the season late following a feed from midfielder Leandro Barrera, who caused havoc on the left side all night long. Barrera received a chipped ball from Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who was making his first appearance against his former club, and played a cross to Torres, who simply tapped the ball past Donovan Ricketts for the equalizer.
Chivas USA registered 26 open-play crosses and held a 10-2 edge in corner kicks, mostly due to Barrera’s ability.
Perhaps the only hiccup for the Rojiblancos came from the least likely source, as veteran and captain Carlos Bocanegra left the pitch during a Chivas USA corner kick attempt.
“We didn’t pick the right shoes,” Cabrera said. “Sadly, Carlos slipped and realized he needed to change his cleats.”
With Bocanegra on the sideline waiting to return, Portland’s Will Johnson victimized the Chivas USA defense for a goal in the seventh minute.
Yet after the mistake, the Goats managed to hold their own in a difficult road environment, similarly to how they fought in a 1-1 draw at New York two weeks ago.
“The most important thing for us was not to give up an early goal and we did that,” Kennedy said. “But it was how we responded; we didn’t let it get to us. In terms of our soccer possession, this was our best game.”