The final scoreline was hardly flattering for Chivas USA against the Seattle Sounders in their US Open Cup semfinal loss on Wednesday night, but there was one moment in the 46th minute that truly changed the complexion of the contest.
With Chivas down a goal to start the half, referee Chris Penso awarded the Sounders a penalty kick in the 46th minute for questionable shoulder-to-shoulder contact between Chivas defender Rauwshan McKenzie and Sounders forward Fredy Montero.
Moments later, Osvaldo Alonso buried a penalty kick past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy that gave Seattle a 2-0 lead the Goats could never completely overcome. Cesar Romero’s goal cut the lead to one in the 78th minute, but the Sounders added two more goals late on en route to a 4-1 win.
Kennedy, for one, believed that it was the penalty kick that turned the game on its head.
“I don’t know what the PK looked on tape, but clearly in my mind, that’s not a goalscoring opportunity,” he told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I thought it was a bit harsh, in my view, I thought that Montero was holding on to Rauwshan.
“It was a really, really harsh call to penalize us,” he added. “...With that being said, we left ourselves exposed and gave up a third and then from there, we’re pushing as hard as we can. It can happen like this in an environment like this and, it’s a tough side of these games.”
But the penalty kick goal aside, as one of the leaders as a Chivas club with higher aspirations than the Open Cup semifinals, Kennedy feels that the Rojiblancos need to provide a better showing in pivotal matches.
“We’re not content or happy going out in the semifinals, but to be in the top four, we should be proud of that,” he said. “But going forward our expectation as a club needs to be more that the semifinals is not good enough anymore. We want to play for championships and in order to do that, you got to win games like today.”
Riley makes bittersweet return
On the field, it was hardly the return that Chivas right back James Riley was expecting when he arrived in Seattle to face his former club. But off the field, he was touched by the show of support from the Seattle faithful.
Following the Rojiblancos’ defeat at the hands of the Sounders, Riley was honored by fans with a standing ovation for his three years with Seattle, where was an integral part of a club that earned three consecutive Open Cup titles.
“It’s great. … When we trained at Starfire yesterday I told the [Chivas] guys that it was going to be fun today with the fans and how passionate they would be,” Riley said. “I told them it would be a challenge, but a great game. We wanted to play the champions at Starfire, you can't write a better script than that, but we just couldn't get the result we wanted. The fans here are top notch, and the three years I spent here were some of the best, both on and off the field."
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.