After what Chivas USA has endured to start the season, it would be silly to complain after its first success under Robin Fraser.
The Goats held on for a 1-1 draw Saturday at Toronto FC after taking an early lead through Alejandro Moreno, a result secured only when former Chivas forward Maicon Santos, all but presented an open net, made a horrendous decision an hour in.
Chivas (0-2-1), coming off successive shutout losses to Colorado and in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier against Portland, deserved a lot more than what it got. Its dominance in the first 20 or 25 minutes was nearly complete, Justin Braun should have finished at least one of three headers, and had the rebound from Jorge Flores' late knuckler fallen more evenly, Moreno certainly would have netted a second.
A quick look at Chivas' tie:
BEST PLAYER: Braun, like in Portland, was the real force, continually getting into dangerous places and combining to create chances. His return pass to Flores led to Moreno's goal, and he should have done more from crosses by Nick LaBrocca in the 12th minute and Marcos Mondaini in the 14th.
His best moment: overpowering TFC defender Ty Harden to get to LaBrocca's 76th-minute corner kick, forcing a reaction save from Stefan Frei.
We also liked Flores, especially early on, and LaBrocca in central midfield, Michael Lahoud at left back and Dan Kennedy in the nets. The Reds got a great first half from Javier Martina on the right flank and a nice effort all game from ex-Goat Alan Gordon.
BEST GOAL: Moreno's was a gritty goal, but it was a thing of beauty for the Goats. The real work was Flores' -- the midfielder, getting a start after bringing great energy to Chivas' effort in Portland, played a 1-2 with Braun beyond the TFC box, then outbattled defender Nana Attakora to knock the ball forward.
Moreno, charging in from the right, hustled to get in front of Adrian Cann, beating everyone to the ball and knocking it with the outside of his right past Frei.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Chivas is still trying to cut down on individual mistakes at the back; another cost it the lead late in the first half. The marking on a 36th-minute Jacob Peterson free kick from about 40 yards was atrocious. Braun let Gordon slip away, and Heath Pearce (partnering Andy Boyens in the middle, with Ben Zemanski returning to midfield) failed to respond, and the big forward -- traded last month to TFC for LaBrocca -- was alone in front of the net to nod home Peterson's service.
WORTH NOTING: Moreno wore the captain's armband for Chivas. … Kennedy got the nod in goal after a sterling performance against Portland. ... Defender Michael Umaña didn't make the trip to Toronto because he suffered a foot injury while playing for Costa Rica's national team. ... Maicon Santos, who was appointed TFC captain after the Reds sent Dwayne De Rosario to New York in a trade Friday, should have assisted an Alen Stevenovic winner in the 60th minute. The Brazilian attacker ran onto a feed from Gordon, cut left to beat Kennedy, then decided to take it himself rather than pass to Stevenovic, who had an open shot to the left. Boyens raced in to force a shot wide of the post. … Maicon Santos did score in the 76th minute, but he was offside. … Gordon struck the left post with a 25th-minute header. ... Tony Tchani and Danleigh Borman, acquired in the De Ro trade, played the full 90 for TFC.
FRASER SAYS: The Goats head coach, on a mini-conference call after the game, said he most liked the intensity with which his team started the game.
“We started on the front foot -- we were aggressive,” Fraser said. “Even if you look at the goal: Jorge Flores sticks with that play, when the ball easily could have gotten lost, and Alejandro is in with an aggressive move. That goal was sheer effort. …
“We have a lot of possession-oriented players, maybe not as goal-oriented as we need. For me, that is the sort of thing this team needs to do, it needs to be aggressive on the attacking end of the field.”
NEXT: April 9 vs. Columbus Crew at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (TV: Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22)
BMO Field (Toronto)
Toronto FC 1, Chivas USA 1
C -- Alejandro Moreno 2
T -- Alan Gordon (Jacob Peterson) 36
Toronto FC: Stefan Frei; Nana Attakora (Dicoy Williams, 65), Ty Harden, Adrian Cann, Danleigh Borman; Jacob Peterson (Julian de Guzman, 46), Tony Tchani, Alen Stevanovic (Joao Plata, 70); Javier Martina, Maicon Santos, Alan Gordon.
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; Michael Lahoud, Andy Boyens, Heath Pearce Ante Jazic; Ben Zemanski; Justin Braun (Victor Estupiñan, 86), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores, Marcos Mondaini (Gerson Mayen, 67); Alejandro Moreno. Unused subs: Sergio Arias, Francisco Mendoza, Seth Owusu, Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo.
Yellow card: de Guzman 89.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo. Att.: 18,968.