CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA have made their share of mental blunders during the current eight-game winless streak, but Mario de Luna’s instantly-infamous own goal in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders might have topped them all.
De Luna’s mistake was the latest in a series of miscues that were way too prevalent in former coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá’s short tenure. The team’s tailspin began with a pair of missed penalty shots in back-to-back one-goal losses and continued with run-ins with the MLS Disciplinary Dommittee, including de Luna’s incident with a Portland Timbers ball boy.
“The ball was coming to the middle and my teammates yelled that I was alone,” de Luna told reporters. “I lost the ball in the lights. I wanted to settle with my chest but when I realized where the ball was, it was very close. I didn’t get to react.”
Replays showed de Luna smiling in disbelief as he looked up at the Home Depot Center lights.
POLL: Was de Luna's gaffe the worst of the weekend?
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who attempted to stop de Luna’s perfectly placed header, offered his take.
“He knew he was by himself,” Kennedy said. “We communicated and I thought he was going to try to chest it to me. He lost the ball in the lights. His reaction was with his head. It’s such a fluky play that maybe, more often than not, that ball goes out for a corner kick and it’s no big deal. Instead, it catches us by surprise and it’s in the back of the net.”
Kennedy has yet to keep a clean sheet this season, as Chivas USA struggled with Chelís’ choice for a three-man backline.
Seattle’s other goal Saturday came on another defensive lapse when Bobby Burling was beaten by a streaking Obafemi Martins, who calmly chipped a left-footed shot over a sprawling Kennedy.
“Defensively, we gave up gifts,” interim coach Sasha van der Most said. “The second goal, that doesn’t happen very often. Unfortunately we didn’t have the effort to come back.”