FULLERTON -- Jose Erik Correa took a goal away from Chivas USA a half-hour into Tuesday night's U.S. Open Cup showdown, and he wasn't about to let that be his legacy in the Goats' biggest game so far this season.
The Colombian forward, returning from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him most of June, made up for his miscue by scoring two goals, including a dramatic stoppage-time winner, as Chivas USA overcame the pesky Charlotte Eagles to advance to the 99-year-old competition's semifinals for the second time in club history.
Correa headed home a Laurent Courtois free kick nearly four minutes into added time to deliver a 2-1 triumph at Cal State Fullerton and set up a July 10 date with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, a 1-0 winner over the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders beat the Goats two years ago in the semifinals.
“This is huge ...,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser after the Goats' third one-goal victory in this Open Cup and the second in a row on a stoppage-time finish. “Sometimes the play's been good, sometimes the play's not been great, but at the end of the day, the team is finding ways to get results. That's going to serve you well in the long run.”
Correa also tallied in the 64th minute, finishing a through ball from Juan Agudelo that looked as if it would hold up until the end. Charlotte, a third-division side that beat FC Dallas in a third-round game nearly a month ago, pulled even in the 89th minute when Mauricio Salles knocked home the remains of a Jorge Herrera shot that James Riley slid in to block.
“It goes to show you waste some really big chances and you let the team stay in it, they’re going to fight until the very end,” said center back Danny Califf, who wore the captain's armband. “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, especially in the second half. We weren’t able to hold the ball, we didn’t finish our attacks very well, they were able to get rebounds and come at us with numbers.
“It wasn’t pretty, but in the end it showed a lot of character. That’s two games in a row that we’ve done that, so we’d like to make it easier on ourselves, but a win is a win is a win.”
Correa clinically finished on the first, with Agudelo -- a late-first-half substitute for Miller Bolaños, who retweaked his hamstring injury in his first game since May 23 -- feeding him after Courtois chested a Tim Melia clearance onto his path near midfield. The second was almost as nice, with Correa getting assistance from countryman Juan Pablo Angel to nod home Courtois' free kick from about 30 yards out on the right flank.
“I was arriving at that ball with not a lot of strength, and [Angel] pushed me from the back with a lot of strength,” Correa said through a translator. “The next thing I know, he yells, 'Goal!' and then I turn around. Practically, the whole strength on that goal was from him. He pushed me.”
Chivas ought to have been ahead by halftime. They held nearly constant possession in the first half, weaving beautiful patterns with constant ball movement and position interchange, but it led to few real chances, a defining aspect of the Goats' season.
Courtois got his chance in the 30th minute, when Eagles goalkeeper Clint Irwin parried a Paolo Cardozo cross toward the Frenchman, who twisted to volley it on frame. It appeared headed for the net when Correa, who needed only to duck away from the ball's path, tried to head it in and instead put it over the crossbar.
“Absolutely. I took it out of the goal for him -- that was his goal,” Correa said. “I tried to make it better, and, unfortunately, I damaged that play. Fortunately, I was able to score a couple.”
Fraser called Correa's second-half output “redemption” and praised the young forward's effort, even if the time off left him a tad rusty.
“He's a motivated, a determined kid,” Fraser said. “He runs hard, he wants to win, and you look at the first goal, I thought his composure was great, and the second goal in the dying minutes -- to have the wherewithal and the composure to finish that chance was excellent. ... He looks to get behind defenses. He does whatever he needs to do to get on the end of the ball in the box.
“I thought two goals for him tonight was certainly fitting based on how hard he worked and the opportunities he tried to be a part of.”
Melia had to make several saves -- on Mark Bloom in the first half, on back-to-back shots by Juan Guzman and Nate Thornton early in the second half, on Joseph Kabwe with about 20 minutes to go -- but had no chance on Salles' equalizer.
Chivas also had let a lead go late in their fourth-round game, three weeks ago against the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, N.C., then prevailed on Angel's penalty kick three minutes into stoppage. This was nearly a mirror image.
“Obviously, if you've got a team down late in the game, you want to be able to put the game away, [but I'm] really proud of their effort to come back from that,” Fraser said. “They really could have kind of sulked for a couple minutes, and they just got right back at it and created another couple of good opportunities.”
U.S. OPEN CUP
Titan Stadium, Cal State Fullerton
Chivas USA (MLS) 1, Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) 1
CUSA -- Jose Erik Correa (Juan Agudelo) 64
C -- Mauricio Salles 89
CUSA -- Jose Erik Correa (Laurent Courtois) 94+
Chivas USA: Tim Melia; James Riley, Danny Califf, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafaña; Blair Gavin, Peter Vagenas (Ben Zemanski, 46); Miller Bolaños, Paolo Cardozo (Juan Pablo Angel, 72), Laurent Courtois; Jose Erik Correa (Juan Agudelo, 39). Unused subs: Ante Jazic, Dan Kennedy, Alejandro Moreno, Cesar Romero.
Charlotte Eagles: Clint Irwin; Mark Bloom, Devon Grovsis, Josh Rife, Luke Williams (Miguel Ferrer, 78); Nate Thornton (Christian Meza, 61), Juan Guzman, Darren Toby (Mauricio Salles, 84), Jorge Herrera; Joseph Kabwe, Darryl Roberts. Unused subs: Sean Bateau, Eric Reed, Cheyne Roberts, Chris Salvaggione.
Yellow card: Bloom 32.
Referee: Chris Penso. Att.: 1,230.