High Gives Way to Tie for Chivas
Bob Bradley has turned Chivas USA from an also-ran into a title contender in a single season, but the coach was not a happy man Sunday evening.
“I was pretty upset,” Bradley admitted after playoff-bound Chivas had yielded an 89th-minute goal and allowed what seemed a certain victory to get away from it in a 1-1 tie with Real Salt Lake at the Home Depot Center.
And so the players heard about it.
“But I also made sure they understood that the anger is to be channeled toward knowing that from here on out now we’ve got to make sure that we get the business done,” Bradley said.
“All that matters is being a team that knows how to win, and win a championship. We’ve got to learn still, even from lessons at the end of the year.”
Sunday’s game, played in front of an enthusiastic 19,872, was the final game of Major League Soccer’s regular season. Next up for Chivas is a two-game series with the Houston Dynamo, starting Sunday in Carson.
Chivas took the lead Sunday in the 20th minute when rookie midfielder Brent Whitfield, closing in at the far post, slammed a rebound into the open net for his first MLS goal.
Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza, the most lively and exciting Chivas player all season, began the sequence when he fired a shot that Real goalkeeper Scott Garlick managed to deflect, only to see the ball roll free.
The lead was maintained until the dying moments, when Costa Rican international Jafet Soto managed to hook the ball into the net with a falling half-bicycle kick off a cross from Chris Klein, who early in the first half hit the post with a shot.
Soto’s goal, and the resulting tie, earned Real (10-13-9) the point it needed to finish in fifth place in the Western Conference -- out of the playoffs but ahead of the last-place Galaxy.
Chivas finished the regular season in third place with a 10-9-13 record, a far cry from the 4-22-6 mark of its inaugural campaign.
It has been an encouraging year for Bradley’s players, none more so than for forward Ante Razov.
He took his goal-scoring battle with Real’s Jeff Cunningham right down to the final match.
Cunningham finished the regular season with a league-high 16 goals, four of them scored on penalty kicks, as well as 11 assists.
Razov finished second with 14 goals, none from the penalty spot, and eight assists.
The only sour note for Chivas, other than letting the victory escape, was the mild concussion suffered by midfielder Jesse Marsch when he was slammed by Real Salt Lake forward Atiba Harris.
“He’s been a little groggy, so there’s a concern there,” Bradley said, “but he’s feeling a little better so we’ll hope that things clear up and he’s ready to go.”