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Thursday, September 22, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Draw at D.C. too little too late

By Scott French

Chivas USA showed some character in rallying from a two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw Wednesday night at D.C. United, but it wasn't enough -- and it came too late.

Juan Pablo Angel's two goals, Dan Kennedy's stoppage-time penalty-kick save and the return ahead of schedule for defender Heath Pearce were huge positives for the Goats (7-12-11), who ended a four-game losing streak but extended their winless stretch to seven games.

Ties aren't good enough, not that it matters anymore. If Chivas loses or ties Saturday night at Home Depot Center against Toronto FC, which has won back-to-back games and is unbeaten in its last three, and Portland wins at New York, the Goats would be the first team eliminated from the playoff chase.

Only Vancouver has a lower points ceiling -- Chivas' is 41, the Whitecaps' 40 -- and it also could be eliminated Saturday night.

It's been a horrible stretch drive for a Goats team that was in the playoff zone, among the top 10 teams, just 6½ weeks ago.

A quick look at Chivas' draw:

BEST PLAYER: It's Angel or Kennedy -- both were critical in Chivas' comeback.

Angel scored his third and fourth goals since joining the Goats last month (and his sixth and seventh of the season) and has hit the net in back-to-back games.

Kennedy strengthened his solid MLS Goalkeeper of the Year credentials with several nice stops, the most important PK save on Dwayne De Rosario to secure the tie.

BEST GOAL: Angel's first was the nicest -- he dominated rookie Perry Kitchen in the air to nod the ball past D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 57th minute to halve the deficit.

BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Goats didn't surrender an early goal after doing so five times in the past five games, but they conceded twice on set pieces because of, again, horrible marking.

De Rosario netted his 10th of the season in the 39th minute, slipping unmarked through a tight space in front of the net to knock home Andy Najar's free kick.

D.C. made it 2-0 two minutes into the second half, with Chivas' defenders standing and watching as Ethan White surged forward to knock home the rebound after Kennedy knocked away a De Rosario header from Santino Quaranta's corner kick.

“It’s a little bit disappointing when you give up two set-piece goals,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said. “We’ve given up a few set-piece [goals] over the last few weeks when that’s something we were really quite good at for a while. So it’s disappointing when really I felt like we did a good job of limiting [D.C. United’s] chances during the first half. And then, obviously, to give up a free header on a set-piece goal is disappointing. And then we come out in the second half and give up another set-piece goal. Extremely disappointing.”

WORTH NOTING: Chivas is 13th in the overall standings. ... The result was more damaging to United (8-8-11), which has genuine postseason hopes and sits 12th, two points out of the top 10, than to the Goats. ... De Rosario's obvious dive, under minimal contact from Angel, fooled referee Chris Penso, who awarded the penalty two minutes into second-half stoppage. ... Pearce, returning from a hamstring tear, went 82 minutes in central defense. Michael Umaña started at right back and moved into the middle when Michael Lahoud came on for Pearce. ... D.C. United coach Ben Olsen's take on the game: “We played like boys. ... We played soft, naïve. There’s a mentality to this game that right now some of our guys don’t have. We have talent -- flashes -- but it’s still not good enough. You need to have it for 90 minutes. Part of it is youth, and part of it is complacency. We are up, 2-0, and now we think the game is easy. We get half the tackle, we don’t have to win second balls, and we roll the dice and hope we get lucky. It’s absolutely going to stop -- it has to stop, or we will not make the playoffs, it’s that simple.”

FINAL JUDGMENT: “It’s been a bit of a difficult time for us. We haven’t been playing the greatest football lately,” Angel said. “Today we conceded two goals that to our standards we shouldn’t have conceded, and we put ourselves on the back foot, but then I thought we showed a lot of resilience and character and more of what we expect from this team. It allowed us to even the game up, and we could have won it.

“There’s a lot of positives today. I think this is going to be a great boost for the team, and we still mathematically have a chance to qualify [for the playoffs], and we’re going to give it the best effort that we can.”

NEXT: Saturday vs. Toronto FC at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (KWHY/Channel 22 and KDOC/Channel 56) RFK Stadium (Washington)
D.C. United 2, Chivas USA 2
DC -- Dwayne De Rosario (Andy Najar) 39
DC -- Ethan White 47
CUSA -- Juan Pablo Angel (Nick LaBrocca) 57
CUSA -- Juan Pablo Angel (Ante Jazic) 69

D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Dwayne De Rosario, Santino Quaranta; Charlie Davies (Austin Da Luz, 68), Josh Wolff (Stephen King, 59).

Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; Michael Umaña (Michael Lahoud 83), Heath Pearce, David Junior Lopes, Ante Jazic; Marcos Mondaini (Laurent Courtois, 62), Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Justin Braun, 55); Alejandro Moreno, Juan Pablo Angel. Unused subs: Simon Elliott, Blair Gavin, Zach Thornton, Zarek Valentin.

Yellow cards: McDonald 20, Zemanski 30, Umaña 46.

Referee: Chris Penso. Att.: 14,849.