The beginning of the end for Chivas USA could have gone unnoticed.
Even as the team prepared to begin the final season of its 10-year history, following Major League Soccer’s announcement last month that it had bought the club and would sell it to a new owner who would change the name, few fans could be spotted walking the streets around StubHub Center an hour before the game.
Unlike Saturday night, when the Galaxy hosted its season opener at the venue in front of more than 25,000 fans, the streets around the stadium in Carson on Sunday were empty for Chivas USA’s season opener against the Chicago Fire.
But Chivas USA refused to go quietly, putting on a show that ended with a 3-2 victory for the home side.
After a slow first half, Chivas USA opened the scoring in the 56th minute when Erick “El Cubo” Torres converted on a penalty kick after being taken down in the 18-yard box by Gonzalo Segares.
From that point, the 8,320 fans in attendance got a display of soccer that showed the team still has some fight.
Chivas USA took a two-goal lead when Thomas McNamara, making his regular-season debut with the team, tapped in a low and hard cross from the left delivered in the 59th minute by Leandro Barreras, who is on loan from an Argentine team.
Then the home side hit a snag and gave up two goals in a 10-minute period that saw their worst play of the night.
Fire Coach Frank Yallop’s substitutions paid off for him as Benji Joya scored in the 64th minute just moments after coming onto the field, and Quincy Amarikwa scored in the 70th minute after entering the match as a second-half sub.
With the game set to finish in a deadlock with less than five minutes to go in regulation, defender Bobby Burling connected on a Mauro Rosales corner kick and headed the ball into the net to give Chivas USA the game-winner in the 88th minute.
“It showed some resilience for us when you keep fighting. To turn it around and look for a winner was huge for us,” Burling said.
Chivas USA Coach Wilmer Cabrera said he was pleased with his team’s performance but said the two goals it conceded came from a lapse in concentration.
Cabrera said the resilience the team showed after giving up a two-goal lead will help it going forward. He added that the team is under a lot of pressure because of the changes to the club, but “in the end… it’s a good mentality to start a season.”
The team walked away from the game having learned a tough lesson, Cabrera said.
“We’re looking to be competitive, so we can’t relax during the game. We learned that lesson, and hopefully it’s a lesson that won’t be repeated.”