Chivas USA wrapped its second-worst season Saturday night with another loss, their sixth in seven games, this one as lopsided as any this year: 4-1 to the visiting Chicago Fire, their fifth three-goal defeat (and their second in succession and third in the final six games).
Ah, a time for celebration. No, really.
The result really didn’t matter, not that Chivas wanted to lose. Houston’s victory over Seattle earlier in the day had consigned the Goats to last place in the Western Conference, so finishing 8-17-4 is only a little worse than 9-16-4 -- and nowhere nearly as poor as the 4-22-6 they posted in 2005, their inaugural year.
This one was about goodbyes more than goals, and the 14,825 that Chivas said was on hand at Home Depot Center got to see Jonathan Bornstein’s last game with the Goats and watch retiring U.S. legend Brian McBride exit with a pretty little goal to start the Fire’s romp.
C.J. Brown, a solid defender who has been toiling admirably since before Major League Soccer was born (and has been with Chicago since the club’s 1998 arrival), also played his final game.
It was an emotional night for all three, in varying degrees. McBride’s 80th MLS goal, a nifty backheel from a Freddie Ljungberg feed in the 40th minute , was “icing on the cake” of “a game we want to win.”
Bornstein, who is headed to Mexico to play for Monterrey’s UANL Tigres, said that it was his last game in red and white “hit me when the whistle blew, and it was done.”
Brown, who only announced his retirement this week, says it “won’t really set in until preseason, when all the guys are getting together, and they’re training, and I’m sitting at home.”
Their takes on their final games:
BRIAN MCBRIDE: “My sentimentality and the part of me that would possibly get choked up was last weekend [with the final game in Chicago], and this was about trying to go out with my teammates and playing a good game, a game we win. And then I found out C.J. was retiring, and it was really about C.J. The amount of effort, time, passion, desire that he has put into this organization and to his teammates throughout his career leaves a lasting impression for everybody, and I was just proud to be out there with him in his last game. …
“Probably the most unique thing about [retiring] is I’ve had the chance to express myself in a grateful manner to a lot of people, and the amount of thanks I got back is just amazing and something I didn’t expect.”
C.J. BROWN: “I don’t like a lot of attention. I like to go and do my job. I look up to McBride -- I think he is one of the best players we’ve had in the U.S., and it’s been an honor to play with him. I just felt it was best to send him off in the right way, just for all the stuff he’s done for soccer.
“If anybody deserves it, it’s him. I’ve been around a long time, and I’ll get mind. The fans will do stuff for me. The Fire will do stuff for me, but I felt it was important to let McBride have his time. I respect it more than anybody.”
JONATHAN BORNSTEIN: “It hit me when the whistle blew, and it was done. Seeing all my fans -- they came on the field, and we took a big picture. It’s probably the last time I’ll be on the field with them for probably a really long time.
“It’s a little sad to know it’s all over, but then I look forward and see what’s ahead of me in terms of the adventure and moving to Mexico and starting a new life there, and start with a new club. So I’m really excited about that.
“I feel extremely honored to be given the Claudio Suarez Award, when means, like, the passion for a team, and you really express what Chivas USA is all about. That’s what I’ve tried to do over my career here, is be as good a professional as possible and represent this club in a very positive way. …
“I haven’t even seen the watch they gave me. I’m kind of excited to see what it is.”