CARSON -- Chivas USA took care of their first need Friday night, finally finding the net in a home game. It took 383 minutes and came from the penalty spot, courtesy of Juan Pablo Angel.
That was supposed to spark the Goats to some real home success, but another hit-and-mostly-miss performance -- marked by many of the same troubles -- led to another home defeat.
Marco Pappa scored a superb goal in the third minute of stoppage time to deliver to the Chicago Fire a 2-1 victory, handing Chivas their fifth one-goal loss in as many matches at Home Depot Center.
“Not a whole lot to say, really,” said Robin Fraser, who dropped to 5-12-5 in home games as Chivas head coach. “Bitterly disappointing to give up a goal in the dying seconds to lose at home. It's a bitter pill to swallow for sure.”
Their season-worst third successive loss left them 3-6-0, and things aren't going to get any easier. The next five games, through mid-June, are against a Major League Soccer murderers' row: at San Jose, home against the Galaxy, at New York, home against Seattle, home against Real Salt Lake.
Fraser changed his formation, heavily altered his lineup and gave four players their season debuts -- two of them, Colombian defender John Alexander Valencia and newly arrived Colombian forward Jose Erik Correa, their MLS debuts -- but Chivas' game ebbed and flowed, with moments of great clarity obscured by extended spans in which they created very little.
They got the goal in the 23rd minute, with Angel converting after rookie Austin Berry, making his MLS debut, dragged down Alejandro Moreno just inside the Fire box. Berry made up for it about two minutes later, volleying a chip from Sebastian Grazzini inside the left post after a throw-in was cleared.
The Goats did enough to earn a point, but Pappa crushed those aspirations following a sequence on the right flank with Federico Puppo, firing across the goal and inside the left post from about 22 yards.
“[It's great] any time you can score a goal like that late and put three points in a difficult place,” said Fire coach Frank Klopas, who was confined to a luxury suite while serving a one-game suspension. “It took a special player to make a special play at the end.”
Kennedy was, as always, outstanding, making three big saves -- including back-to-back stops on Grazzini and Dominic Oduro in the 62nd minute. There was nothing he could do on Pappa's winner.
“I'm definitely at a loss for words,” Kennedy said. “It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. I guess maybe we were pushing a little too much for a goal in the last five minutes there, and maybe we should have just sat our numbers in midfield back a little farther and make sure we got the draw. But we want to win at home.”
Toward that aim, Fraser shifted from a one-forward alignment to a 4-4-2 with diamond midfield -- his preferred system last year -- in an attempt to match up with Chicago's usual formation. Chicago shifted to a 4-2-3-1, as Chivas has lined up most of this year. There was a lot of give-and-take, but Chivas' possession numbers dwindled in the second half, when Pappa gained more control of the proceedings. Oduro's pace was troublesome all game, more so in the first half.
Fraser gave Jorge Villafaña his first start, on the left side of midfield, and brought on Michael Lahoud -- his first appearance this season -- and Correa in final 20 minutes.
Correa, Fraser noted, had a “bright first few seconds ... and after that we really didn't do a whole lot in providing the forwards with service, so it was difficult to assess him after that.”
The alterations, he said, were about needing “to look at different ways to go about doing it if the way we've been doing it hasn't been getting results. ... We can't keep doing the same thing that we're doing.”
Ultimately, it didn't work. What's next?
“Persevere. Persevere,” he said. “I mean, we don't really have an option. That's what you do. I mean, we have an abundance of players who are capable players, and as a group we have to persevere. We as coaches have to, players have to, and a lot of it is taking a good, hard look at ourselves in the mirror and not shirking responsibility.
“Everyone needs to look at it and say, 'What can we do better? What can I do better?' ”
WORTH NOTING: Oswaldo Minda picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 16th minute after taking down Grazzini and will be suspended for the May 13 game at San Jose. ... Former Chivas assistant coach Mike Matkovic served as Chicago's head coach in Klopas' place. ... Angel, who missed five games because of a concussion, hit heads with Chicago defender Gonzalo Segares and said he "felt something." ... Valencia had been on seven successive MLS 18-man rosters and started five of six reserve games since the season opener. Villafaña had made just two 18-man rosters. ... Dropped from the 18 were defender Scott Gordon, midfielders Paolo Cardozo and Blair Gavin, and rookie forward Casey Townsend. Cardozo, acquired last month from the Galaxy, had started the two previous matches. ... Berry, a rookie out of the University of Louisville, got to play in front of his parents, who flew from their Cincinnati home at the last minute when he told them he'd be starting. “Throughout the game, I completely forgot they were there,” he said, “and I almost walked into the locker room without running over to them [after the game]. But I turned around and ran back to say hi to them.”
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Chivas USA 1, Chicago Fire 2
CUSA -- Juan Pablo Angel pen. 23
C -- Austin Berry (Sebastian Grazzini) 25
CUSA -- Marco Pappa (Federico Puppo) 93+
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; James Riley, John Alexander Valencia, Rauwshan McKenzie, Heath Pearce; Nick LaBrocca, Oswaldo Minda, Miller Bolaños (Ryan Smith, 66), Jorge Villafaña (Michael Lahoud, 81); Juan Pablo Angel (Jose Erik Correa, 70), Alejandro Moreno. Unused subs: Laurent Courtois, Ante Jazic, Tim Melia, Peter Vagenas.
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo; Patrick Nyarko, Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo, 78), Marco Pappa; Dominic Oduro (Federico Puppo, 86). Unused subs: Orr Barouch, Hunter Jumper, Daniel Paladini, Pablo Tornaghi, Michael Videira.
Yellow cards: Minda 16, Pardo 20, Oduro 72.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo. Att.: 14,652.
Records: Chivas USA 3-6-0, 9 points; Chicago 3-2-2, 11 points.