By KAYLA KNAPP
FULLERTON, Calif.—When Mauricio Salles scored the equalizer in the 89th minute, it seemed that Chivas USA and the Charlotte Eagles were destined for extra time at Titan Stadium on Saturday night.
But five minutes later, in stoppage time, Jose Correa scored his second goal of the night off a free kick from Laurent Courtois, giving the Rojiblancos a 2-1 lead, and the eventual victory in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.
Chivas USA will next face defending Open Cup champion Seattle in the semifinals. The Sounders defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, and will now host the semifinal against Chivas USA on July 10th at Starfire Sports Complex.
After being sidelined for several weeks, Correa certainly made a splash in his return to the pitch. Not only did he score both Chivas goals, the Colombian was incredibly active throughout the 90 minutes.
“He’s motivated, he’s a determined kid, he runs hard, he wants to win," said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. "You look at the first goal I think his composure was great. And the second goal in the dying moments, to have the wherewithal and the composure to finish that chance was excellent.”
The first good chance of the match came from the Eagles in the 10th minute, when Jorge Herrera hit a looping shot into the box, and forcing Chivas goalkeeper Tim Melia to tip the ball over the bar. On the
ensuing corner, Mark Bloom had an even better look on goal when he collected the ball on the right side of the 18, and hit a shot low across the box. Melia again came up big for the Rojiblancos, making the save on Bloom’s hard shot.
While Correa had a strong game overall, in the 30th minute he seemed to accidentally rob Courtois of a goal. Cardozo took a shot, which was punched out by the Eagles goalkeeper, but right to Courtois, who hit the ball on frame. Correa was standing on the goal line, and tried to help the ball into the net by heading it—instead, he knocked it over the bar. Luckily for the Rojiblancos, he would make up for the mistake later in the game.
The rest of the first half saw both sides have a few chances on net, but were unable to get the final touch into the goal. Juan Agudelo created the Rojiblancos’ best opportunity of the first half in the 44th minute when he sent the ball across the box to Courtois, who squandered the chance and hit it wide.
The game remained scoreless at halftime, though Chivas was knocking on the door more often in the final 10 minutes of the half.
The first real chance of the second half came in the 56th minute from Charlotte’s Nate Thornton, who got a shot off in the box, and yet again, Melia made a clutch save for the Rojiblancos.
Chivas finally broke through in the 65th minute, when Courtois chested the ball down at midfield and played it to Agudelo, who slotted the ball through to Correa who was streaking into the box. The
Columbian took a touch around Eagles goalkeeper Clint Irwin, and calmly finished it past two Eagles defenders into the vacant net. Correa made up for his earlier error, giving Chivas a 1-0 lead.
It seemed the Rojiblancos had their spot in the US Open Cup semifinals locked up, but Charlotte wasn’t going down without a fight. In the 89th minute Herrera took a powerful shot on Melia, who blocked the shot, but Salles was there waiting for the rebound, and put it in the back of the net.
As the seconds ticked away, it seemed extra time at Titan Stadium was inevitable. But the Rojiblancos had one more trick up their sleeve.
In stoppage time, they were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. Courtois swung the ball into the group of players in the box, all fighting for the ball. Correa, with a little help from Juan Pablo Angel, rose above the pack, and headed the ball into the back of the net.
“I was arriving at that ball with not a lot of strength, and he pushed me from the back with a lot of strength. The next thing I know, he yells goal and then I turn around,” Correa said after the game. “Practically my whole strength on that goal was from him. He pushed me.”
No more than 30 seconds after the restart, the referee blew the final whistle and Chivas advanced to the semifinals of the Open Cup for just the second time in club history. They will face a difficult opponent in the next round, the Seattle Sounders.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge and they’re pretty experienced, so we’re going to have to be on our A game to get a win,” Rauwshan McKenzie said of the Sounders.