CARSON -- Chivas USA didn't manage to put one shot on target, and here they were, on the verge of victory. For a few seconds, at least.
Then referee Mark Kadlecik conferred with his linesman, and the penalty kick he'd awarded the Goats in the 90th minute was waved off.
The Goats' peaks-and-valleys campaign went through another one of those nights Saturday, and all in all, a 0-0 draw with New York was a reasonably positive result. But, oh, what could have been.
Chivas' half-chances weren't enough to test debuting Red Bulls goalkeeper Frank Rost, fresh from the German Bundesliga, but some fine play, as always, by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was enough to keep a clean sheet as the Goats (5-7-8) extended their unbeaten streak to four games.
It was the struggles connecting in the final third, a problem that keeps resurfacing, that defined the match for Chivas, which put one shot off the crossbar (a Jorge Flores blast in the 38th minute) but couldn't get on the end of crosses into the box and found it difficult to find shots that might matter.
The attack could be strengthened in the next week, head coach Robin Fraser and general manager Jose Domene acknowledged, with signings of “more than one” player apparently imminent.
“Sure. Yes,” Fraser said when asked if a signing was about to happen. How soon? “You know how the process works, with signing and visas and that sort of thing, so as soon as it can happen, you will know.”
Domene said deals were “almost done” and that Chivas “wants to bring in [players] right away, but it's a process. It takes time. It's pretty much done, but it's not finalized.” A forward is the the biggest need, and Fraser acknowledged that signing one "certainly is a very big priority."
No shots on goal usually means no goals, but the Goats had to think one was coming when Kadlecik whistled Red Bulls defender Carlos Mendes for handling a Pearce corner kick in the final minute. The Red Bulls quickly surrounded the referee, who talked it over with linesman Jeff Hosking before reversing himself.
“That's quite a roller-coaster there in a matter of seconds,” said midfielder Nick LaBrocca. “You're in there, and the end of the game is in sight, you're given something, and to have it taken away is an emotional thing.”
Fraser didn't want to talk about it much. “It's extremely disappointing and confusing, to say the least, but whatever,” he said. “Anything else I say will lead to me getting fined.”
Mendes was sliding toward the goal when the ball hit him, and Kadlecik apparently thought it caught his arm. Replays seemed to indicate the ball hit Mendes in the face, caroming toward the goal, where Rost made the stop.
“It would have been really frustrating to gt that kind of wrong decision against you,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said, “but luckily the linesman saw that the ball hit Mendes' chin and not a handball.”
Chivas forward Justin Braun acknowledged the officials seemed to get it right, not that that eases the frustration.
“It just sucks that the ref did call it at first,” he said. “That's stuff that shouldn't go on. At this level, if you call a PK, you should stick with it.”
A quick look at Chivas' draw:
BEST PLAYER: We saw good things from a number of players, most of all Teemu Tainio, who gave the Red Bulls a midfield advantage that fueled their superior play much of the way. Chivas did well playing through Simon Elliott in midfield, and Mariano Trujillo added confidence and the ability to attack the flank when he came on for Michael Lahoud in a 38th-minute tactical switch.
But best of all, again, was Kennedy, who made four saves, including a diving stop on Joel Lindpere in the 21st minute, and prevented another chance by cutting off a dangerous ball from Thierry Henry, along the left byline, meant for Juan Agudelo in the goalmouth in the 78th.
“Dan was very good again. His confidence just continues to grow, and week after week he makes very crucial plays for us,” Fraser said. “I would love it if our goalkeeper was never talked about. ... We want to play so well that our goalkeeper isn't the first person we talk about in [the postgame news conference], but having said that, he's been very good, very solid.
“When a goalkeeper plays like that, it gives the team a lot of confidence. You can tell Dan is kind of emanating confidence at the moment, and I think that certainly helps us as we continue in this process to find ourselves and to continue to move forward.”
BEST GOAL: Only four shots on target, but both teams hit crossbars -- Jan Gunnar Solli for New York in the 32nd minute -- and Tainio and especially Agudelo, twice, put balls just wide of the post. The best near-goal was Lindpere's in the 21st, but he was robbed by Kennedy after volleying a Tainio ball that bounced over Lahoud in Chivas' box.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: No shots on goal isn't very good, no matter how many half-chances you create (and the Goats created fewer than a half-dozen of those).
“Obviously, we need to be more dangerous,” said LaBrocca, whose three-game goal-scoring streak came to an end. “But we were in there. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way, but, yeah, we definitely need to create more. ... When things we normally do aren't doing well, then that portion of the game won't come easily for us.”
More distressing is how little the Goats got from their set pieces, which included three corner kicks and as many free kicks from decent range.
“We had enough corner kicks to score today,” said defender Heath Pearce. “We had some dangerous free kicks, set pieces that guys got to finish. Balls are dropping in the box, balls are getting [sent in at a] low height, and we're not aggressive enough to put them away. If you don't take set pieces serious, you'll never be a serious team. A lot of teams live and die by set pieces, and that's something we need to be able to get something out of.
“We've been too soft on set pieces this year, attacking-wise, and I don'ty think we're getting enough out of it. I think we just kind of go through the motions -- dangerous balls are being put in, and guys got to be able to step up and put them away.”
WORTH NOTING: Lahoud, still transitioning to right back, couldn't hang with Lindpere and Roy Miller, so Trujillo was brought on late in the first half, immediately giving the Goats a better foundation on the right flank. “I'm sure [Lahoud's] confidence it not at its peak,” Fraser said, “but he has so many physical attributes, so much potential. This is a blip along the way for Michael.” ... The Red Bulls surged atop the Eastern Conference with 29 points, one more than Philadelphia, which plays Sunday at New England, and Columbus, which went goalless in a draw at San Jose. ... Chivas remains sixth in the West with 23 points, even with San Jose, but ahead of the Quakes on head-to-head play. ... Paulo Nagamura returned to the 18-man roster after missing the previous two games because of a quad strain. ... The Goats follow next weekend's game with a five-game road swing lasting a little more than a month. ... Forward Alejandro Moreno will likely be back for next week's game against Houston if Venezuela loses to Chile in Sunday's Copa America quarterfinal in San Juan, Argentina. If the Vinotinto win, he'll be back for the July 31 clash at FC Dallas.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “We can play as pretty as we want, but if it doesn't lead to anything, what's the point? In my opinion,” Pearce said. “We're so close to having the pieces together to make a complete puzzle, but either you're doing it or you're not. Tonight was a chance to get three points, and we didn't.”
NEXT: Saturday, June 23, vs. Houston at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Sports West and KWHY/Channel 22)
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Chivas USA 0, New York Red Bulls 0
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; Michael Lahoud (Mariano Trujillo, 38), Michael Umaña, Heath Pearce, Zarek Valentin; Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, Simon Elliott, Jorge Flores (Blair Gavin, 78); Justin Braun, Victor Estupiñan (Chris Cortez, 68). Unused subs: Marcos Mondaini, Francisco Mendoza, Paulo Nagamura, Zach Thornton.
New York: Frank Rost; Jan Gunnar Solli, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream, Roy Miller; Dane Richards, Dax McCarty, Teemu Tainio (Mehdi Ballouchy, 84), Joel Lindpere; Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo.
Yellow cards: Trujillo 39, Zemanski 60.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik. Att.: 14,838.