CARSON -- Chivas USA is four games into a five-game stretch against the best teams in Major League Soccer, and they've managed results in every one of them. Saturday night's was a 1-1 draw with visiting Seattle, and although the Goats might have wrested something more from it but for one error at the back, theirs was one satisfied locker room when it was over.
Juan Agudelo scored his first goal with Chivas, and it might have stood up for a full three points had John Alexander Valencia not whiffed on a ball sent into the Goats' goalmouth just four minutes later. That's three times this season, and twice this week, they've taken a lead and given it right back.
That's on the list of things that still need to be corrected, and if it's a long list, it's getting shorter all the time.
“We would have liked to close the week with three points tonight. I think that goes without saying,” captain Alejandro Moreno said. “Listen, we had an emotional game against the Galaxy last week, we go to New York, a long trip, and get a [tie] there in a very physical and demanding game, and we were able to put together a decent performance tonight. In the end, I think we'll take whatever we got out of this week, but most of all, I think we'll take the fact that we seem to be taking steps forward, the way we're playing. There's more consistency to what we're trying to do on the field.”
Chivas had most of the ball, with 61 percent possession, but created only so many chances -- a recurring theme -- but they put away the best of the lot, maybe their best sequence all season, just 12 minutes into the second half.
Moreno played a ball back to Peter Vagenas, who sent it to James Riley -- outstanding all game, our choice as man of the match -- on the right flank. Riley had plenty of time to look up and pick out Agudelo, who got behind Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to head the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
“Fantastic! .... fantastic!” Vagenas described it. “It's something we've talked about. Alejandro and I spoke about that exact sequence.”
Seattle answered almost immediately, scoring the equalizer in the 61st when Alex Caskey, who had come on seconds earlier, delivered a ball into the middle. Valencia was in position to clear it, but he missed the ball, and former UCLA star David Estrada's touch sent it into the net.
Chivas coach Robin Fraser pulled Valencia almost immediately for Rauwshan McKenzie, and Valencia wasn't pleased. He booted a water bottle into the stands as he walked off the field, narrowly missing a fan, then stormed off to the locker room.
Fraser said Valencia's response was “something we'll have to discuss internally,” but that the decision to pull him had been made before the error, that the “timing worked out” the way that it did.
“It's out jobs as teammate to help pick him up,” said Danny Califf, who made several big plays to lead a superb Chivas backline performance. “Everyone makes mistakes. As a defender it's real cruel -- and as a goalkeeper, as well -- because a lot of times your mistakes equal goals. Forwards can miss as many chances, but a defender makes a mistake and it's a goal.
“Obviously, we're all disappointed in the result, but you can't fault someone who did his best and just made a mistake at the wrong time.”
Chivas did well to hold off a vibrant Sounders attack led by Estrada, who scored four goals in Seattle's first two games but hadn't found the net since, and by Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales. They nearly scored at the end of the first half, when Rosales put a rebound just past the right post, and were pushing hard at the end of the game. Chivas' defensive performance, Valencia's error aside, might have been their best of the year.
The Goats have in succession claimed a point at San Jose -- a game they should have won -- won the SuperClasico against the Galaxy, tied the Red Bulls in New Jersey, and now this.
“Over the last four games, it was a massive success ...,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “We should have won this game, we’re a little disappointed in that, but in the end six points over the four games, I’ll take it.”
Said Vagenas: “This team has something, and it's exciting, and you see glimpses. Once we get more comfortable playing with each other, you'll see a more fine-tuned team. ... We're going to be there in the end.”
WORTH NOTING: Juan Pablo Angel was not on the 18-man game roster. Fraser said he was just giving the 36-year-old forward the night off. ... Agudelo, on his goal: “ It was good, most important because I was able to put the team up front and we were at a point when I scored that goal, thinking that we were going to get three points. That was the most important part.” ... Cesar Romero came on the end for Chivas. He hadn't been on the 18 for six successive games after playing in the first six of the season. ... Seattle has a 10-game road unbeaten streak (7-0-3), second-best in MLS history.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Chivas USA 1, Seattle Sounders 1
C -- Juan Agudelo (James Riley, Peter Vagenas) 57
S -- David Estrada (Alex Caskey, Fredy Montero) 61
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; James Riley, Danny Califf, John Alexander Valencia (Rauwshan McKenzie, 65), Ante Jazic; Peter Vagenas, Laurent Courtois; Juan Agudelo, Alejandro Moreno, Ryan Smith (Cesar Romero, 88); Jose Erik Correa (Blair Gavin, 76). Unused subs: Miller Bolaņos, Scott Gordon, Tim Melia, Jorge Villafaņa.
Seattle Sounders: Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Andy Rose, Brad Evans; Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero (Eddie Johnson, 73), Alvaro Fernandez (Alex Caskey, 61); David Estrada (Cordell Cato, 78). Unused subs: Servando Carrasco, Roger Levesque, Sammy Ochoa, Andrew Weber.
Yellow card: Rose 20.
Referee: Chris Penso. Att.: 12,280.
Records: Chivas USA 4-6-3, 15 points; Seattle 7-3-3, 24 points.