Tristan Bowen's return to action after two months away with an ankle injury brought him a new position, a new set of challenges and, best of all, a goal. An important one, too.
The 20-year-old attacker from Van Nuys headed home a Mariano Trujillo feed Sunday as Chivas USA, down to 10 men for more than an hour, rallied for a 3-3 MLS Reserve League draw with the Portland Timbers at Home Depot Center's Track and Field Stadium.
The strike trimmed the Timbers' advantage to 3-2 in the 63rd minute, and Victor Estupiñan scored from another Trujillo pass five minutes later to deliver a share of the points.
Bowen, who has be sidelined with a sprained ankle since the first week of April, was on the game-day roster Saturday, for the 1-0 victory over the Timbers in MLS play, for the first time since March 26. He played 68 minutes Sunday atop the midfield diamond, just behind Estupiñan and fellow forward Chris Cortez.
“It felt good, getting in there and getting a run with the guys,” said Bowen, who came to Chivas in an offseason trade from the Galaxy. “I was a little bit gassed in the first half, but I caught my second wind going into the second half.”
By then Chivas was down a man -- Cortez, who scored the first goal, was ejected after punching Timbers defender Eric Brunner in the 28th minute -- and behind, 2-1. Eddie Johnson's second goal of the game, two minutes into the second half, made that 3-1.
“We fought hard,” Bowen said. “We went down a man early in the game. It's nothing we don't practice in our regular sessions, so it was more of another exercise.”
So was Bowen's move to central midfield. He's played up top and on the flank and said he was “a bit surprised” when asked to take on the role. Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said it was a move with Bowen's future in mind.
“It's important for Tristan [to be back],” Fraser said, “and he played more in the middle of the field, and he had to make more decisions and that sort of thing, which is important in his growth. I thought he did well.”
Bowen said there were “some things to take away from the game. I think I did decent, but there were a few instances where I needed to be more aware of my surroundings, and I think that's definitely going to help me going forward.”
So might the goal.
“All the guys out there, there's a lot of competition, especially up top,” he said. “Chris Cortez is scoring a lot of goals. Victor is scoring a lot of goals. So it's always good to score as well and let the coaches know I can do it, too.”
ALSO BACK: Seth Owusu, also 20, made his first game appearance since undergoing meniscus surgery in his right knee April 15. The Ghanaian defender, who also was on the 18-man game roster Saturday, went the distance, playing the first half at left back and the second half in the middle.
He got stronger and more confident as the game wore on and finished a strong second half with a crunching tackle against former UC Irvine star Spencer Thompson.
Owusu has not seen time in MLS yet, but he played for the first team in the U.S. Open Cup qualifying loss at Portland in late March. He's philosophical about being out seven weeks.
“I think in soccer, injuries are part of the game,” he said. “As a soccer player, you should accept injuries in your career. So I do accept my injury.”
WORTH NOTING: It's looking unlikely the June 15 game against Mexico's U-22 national team in Tijuana is going to happen, a team official said. … Mexican defender Miguel Sanchez, who has played for Jaguares and Cruz Azul Hidalgo, was impressive in central defense for Chivas. Colombian midfielder Walter Restrepo also played as a trialist. … Academy defender Ian Hines-Ike and midfielder Chris Rodriguez started for the Goats, and defender Carlos Martinez came on for Bowen in the 69th minute. ... Chivas is 2-2-1 in Major League Soccer's supplemental competition, five points behind Western Division leader Seattle (4-0-0). Portland falls to 1-3-0. … San Jose Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS and Azusa Pacific) flew down to watch former Columbus teammate Adam Moffat, who played in central midfield in the first half and central defense in the second for Portland. Moffat is married to Lenhart's sister, Jennifer.
Home Depot Center Track and Field Stadium (Carson)
Chivas USA 3, Portland Timbers 3
C -- Chris Cortez (Francisco Mendoza) 14
P -- Eddie Johnson (Spencer Thompson, Chris Taylor) 40
P -- Freddie Braun (Brian Umony) 43
P -- Eddie Johnson (Brian Umony) 47
C -- Tristan Bowen (Mariano Trujillo, Walter Restrepo) 63
C -- Victor Estupiñan (Mariano Trujillo) 68
Chivas USA: Zach Thornton; Mariano Trujillo, Miguel Sanchez, Ian Hines-Ike (Bryan de la Fuente, 46), Seth Owusu; Gerson Mayen, Chris Rodriguez (Walter Restrepo, 46), Tristan Bowen (Carlos Martinez, 69), Francisco Mendoza; Victor Estupiñan, Chris Cortez. Unused subs: Sergio Arias, Pedro Velazquez.
Portland Timbers: Adin Brown; Freddie Braun, Eric Brunner (Darlington Nagbe, 46), Kevin Goldthwaite, Chris Taylor; James Marcelin (Jesus Gonzalez, 83), Adam Moffat, Brian Umony, Rodrigo Lopez; Spencer Thompson, Eddie Johnson (Bim Ogunyemi, 75).
Yellow cards: Mendoza 45, Goldthwaite 49, Mayen 88. Red card: Cortez 28. Referee: Kevin Stott.