Sacha Kljestan missed a stoppage-time penalty in a 1-1 tie with New York; a win would have moved Chivas USA into sole possession of third place, one point back of second.CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA had chance upon chance to put away Major League Soccer’s worst team on Saturday at Home Depot Center, but misfortune seemed to turn to a lucky break when Chivas were awarded a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.
Tied 1-1, Sacha Kljestan stepped to the penalty spot to take what could have been the game-winning penalty kick. Instead of giving his team a win, though, Kljestan botched the spot kick, sending it wide of the goal and Chivas blew a chance to move past two teams in the Western Conference standings.
Chivas improved to 11-9-5 and moved into a three-way tie for third place. Instead of jumping over Seattle and Colorado, Chivas sit even with their conference rivals, neither of whom won on Saturday.
“We had the game, a 1-0 lead and we gave it up. It definitely feels like a loss,” Chivas’ Jonathan Bornstein said. “We should have closed it out way before then.”
Chivas dominated the match, outshooting New York 18-4. Chivas had an 8-2 edge in shots on goal and held possession for large stretches of the game.
But when it mattered the most, Chivas were untidy. Ten shots were off target as players were unable to test Bouna Coundoul properly. Coundoul made six saves and was active on the night but Chivas’ possession did not yield what it could have.
“I don’t fault the guys for lack of effort because the effort was there,” Chivas coach Preki said. “They pushed forward, moved the ball pretty decent. In some moments I wish we could have moved the ball a little bit faster and after the goal I wish that we were a little bit more unselfish in front of the goal… because we had some guys in pretty decent positions.”
Chivas took the lead in the 64th minute when Kljestan hit a 25-yard shot that deflected off Seth Stammler and into the back of the net. Maicon Santos hit the crossbar nine minutes later as Chivas failed to add a second goal.
But the Red Bulls did not quit.
“Give credit to our guys. They hung in there and they’ve been playing like a team the last five games,” Red Bulls interim coach Richie Williams said. “We’ve gotten leads and we’ve given them up and we’ve fought back and gotten goals. We’ve been behind and fought back and went ahead. The guys have had a great attitude. They’re playing as a team, playing together, playing smart.”
Sinisa Ubiparipovic set up the equalizer with a well-placed cross from the left flank. The ball got between Yamith Cuesta and Jonathan Bornstein and Angel powered the header past Zach Thornton.
“There’s a lot of work to be done but we’re working on it,” said Angel, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury. “We’ve got to keep believing in ourselves, keep getting the result. Getting a point here against a good side, it’s not easy especially because they’re playing for a playoff spot, so it’s a good result for us and I’ll take the draw.”
For his part, Preki said the goal was product of a mental lapse.
“We make one mistake in 90 minutes and we got punished,” he said.
Still, Chivas could have walked away with maximum points. Andrew Boyens was whistled for a penalty kick in stoppage time. Kljestan stepped to the spot and Coundoul had made up his mind about which way to dive.
“I know Sacha. He took a penalty on me and he hit it on my left and I thought he’s probably going to put it there and I was ready so I thought if he’s going to put it there, I’m going to get it,” Coundoul said. “Luckily he put it out of bounds. We are pleased with it, that’s it. We got a result here, go celebrate and get ready for the next game.”
For his part, Kljestan said he was upset with the way the match ended.
“I think, and we all think, we should’ve won the game before we let Angel tie it. We had multiple chances and obviously we didn’t put the game away,” Kljestan said. “I have the chance on the PK in the last minute; obviously it doesn’t go in, so I’m disappointed I didn’t help the team win.”
Luis Bueno, Goal.com
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