It was his seventh appearance in an MLS game, but for Chivas USA rookie Kris Tyrpak, each appearance felt like the first. He enters the StubHub Center pitch with his team down a goal to the Colorado Rapids, and as if it was meant to be, the 22-year-old scored his first career goal in exactly 22 seconds.
“Man, I was just caught up in the moment and trying to find some space,” Tyrpak said. “It popped out and I tried my best to get it past the goalie.”
For the first 64 minutes prior to his arrival, the Rapids were in complete control of the game. Their defense restricted all of Chivas’ offensive avenues and they loaded up their offensive on the Goats’ right side of the pitch.
They didn’t have much of an answer for Colorado forward Charles Eloundou. Even when heavily guarded, the 19-year-old found a way to sneak it to John Neeskens who scored the first goal of the game.
Tyrpak’s special moment couldn’t have come in a better time. He said after the game that it’s about being in the right place at the right time, and he was right on both.
“It was big-time; it changed the momentum of the game,” said Tyrpak, whose last appearance was on June 8. “After that, we started playing around and keeping possession more. It led to another goal.”
Tyrpak came a long way to reach this moment. The Austin native concluded his amateur soccer career by leading the hometown Austin Aztex to the USL PDL title in 2013 while winning MVP honors that season. Now he leaves this game with the game ball signed by his teammates.
“It was great for him, but also great for us,” said Felix Borja, who scored the go-ahead goal in the 85th minute. “He will remember that for the rest of his life. For his career, it will be very nice.”
The victory finally brought the Goats out of the Western Conference cellar. The San Jose Earthquakes now occupy that dubious spot. The two teams will face off in the last game of the season on October 26.
With playoff contention long out of reach and possible contraction looming, finishing the season out of last place remains a noble cause.
“We need to get out of last place, and we can do it,” Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “In order to make it happen, we need to win some points. Especially at home. This is our second win in a row in October, something this franchise hasn’t done in a while.
“The [final] two games won’t be any easier for us, but we are going to battle and we have the mentality to stay out the last place,” he concluded.