For much of Tuesday night, Chivas USA appeared to take its quarterfinal matchup in the U.S. Open Cup for what it was — a glorified exhibition game.
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy sat. Other key players joined him for long stretches. It was Chivas' fourth game in 10 days. Fatigue was bound to play a role.
And early, it did.
By halftime, Chivas had failed to capitalized on nine shots against the Charlotte Eagles of the USL Pro league — the third tier of the North American soccer pyramid. Several breakaway opportunities ended in the hands of the Eagles' backup goalkeeper, Clint Irwin, playing in only his fourth game of the this season.
But during stoppage play, with the score tied, 1-1, forward Jose Correa broke through the Charlotte defense and for the second time put the ball in the back of the net. The pro-Chivas crowd of 1,230 erupted and the game concluded moments later.
"We looked at this as an opportunity to catch our breath and get regrouped," Coach Robin Fraser said. "There have been a lot of guys who have worked some long, hard shifts over the last 10 days."
The goal allowed Chivas to escape what would have been a major upset, and allows the club to advance in the U.S. Open Cup.
But for a time, Chivas put forth an uninspiring performance. Charlotte had defeated FC Dallas of the MLS in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. Chivas, with its lackluster play, looked as if it could be next.
Chivas finally claimed its first goal in the 64th minute. Correa took a pass from Juan Agudelo in the corner of the box and drilled the ball past Irwin.
Just before regulation ended, Charlotte's Mauricio Salles answered, and it was still unclear how much time Chivas had on the clock.
It didn't matter. Moments later, Correa found the back of the net again.
"Rather than wither away," Fraser said, "we stood up to the challenge, put ourselves in good opportunities and scored."