Eighty minutes into Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids, Chivas USA were down and pushing feverishly for an equalizer. Not only did they never get one, but by the time the final whistle sounded, the final score was 4-0 in favor of Colorado.
Despite the result, it wasn't just one-way traffic. The Goats frequently challenged the Rapids defense late, and were unlucky to not score on a looping James Riley shot that forced a one-handed save from Matt Pickens just two minutes before Kamani Hill’s goal in the 82nd minute, which opened the floodgates at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
For a team that has prided itself on its ability to focus over 90 minutes, the result was anything but positive.
“I think the score doesn’t really tell how the full game went, but their persistence definitely won out at the end,” midfielder Nick LaBrocca told reporters. “They kept attacking and they got their goals. [We need to be] a little sharper in the final third. I think our execution was a little bit off, but we were close, so that’s a positive to take out of it.”
Although the result was less than flattering, the 2011 MLS All-Star admitted that Chivas needed to put the result in the rearview mirror.
“We just need to start focusing on winning our home games and obviously scoring goals,” LaBrocca added. “That’s basically what it comes down to for us.”
Ángel still working into fitness after first start
Chivas USA’s offense may be failing to get the ball in the back of the net, but the club did welcome back Juan Pablo Ángel (above), who went 90 minutes in his first start since returning from a concussion.
In his third match in less than a week – including a substitute appearance against the Philadelphia Union and a start in a reserve game – Ángel had several opportunities to score his first goal of the season, but was unable to find the back of the net.
His finest chance came in the 30th minute of play when Pickens made back-to-back saves on Laurent Courtois and Ángel to keep the score level.
“I’ve been out for eight or nine weeks in total, so I was exhausted toward the end,” Ángel told reporters, “but the only way you’re going to get your rhythm is by playing. So I was in a way very content that I was able to get back and get the first 90 minutes under my belt, but extremely disappointed about the overall performance of the whole team.”
Following the match, the Colombian forward admitted that while he was able to go the distance, he has not yet fully recovered from his injury absence.
“It’s going to take a few more games just to get the match fitness and the sharpness,” he said, “but I think the only way to get there ... is just by playing and I hope I get the rhythms as soon as possible.”
Correa trains for first time
Angel's return may not be the only salve for Chivas’ struggling offense. The club’s new signing, José Erick Correa, trained for the first time on Monday after arriving in Los Angeles from Colombia during the weekend. He is expected to be available for Friday’s match against Chicago.
Correa – who was recently called up for a domestic training camp with the Colombian national team – arrives in MLS after scoring 12 goals in 35 matches in the Liga Postobón since his professional debut in August 2010.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.