Chivas USA closing in despite loss
Wednesday's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the L.A. Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a bittersweet night for Chivas USA.
On the positive side, the club played before 88,816, the second-largest crowd in league history, at least half of which were red-and-white clad supporters.
But the atmosphere and electricity in the crowd did nothing to change Chivas USA's fortunes against the Galaxy. Landon Donovan's late penalty kick gave the Galaxy a 1-0 win.
"It was an amazing atmosphere here tonight and it was unfortunate we couldn't get a better result," Chivas USA 'keeper Brad Guzan said.
Chivas USA lost all four regular-season matches to their rivals by a combined 8-1. Chivas USA failed to score in the last three matches despite controlling much of the play.
All the games in the series were very similar, said Antonio Martinez. Chivas USA controlled possession, generated scoring chances but failed to score; the Galaxy sat back, countered and won that way, Martinez said.
"We're in last place and we're still taking it to them," Martinez said. "They play to counterattack and that's not normal. The last-place team should be the one defending for 90 minutes. Every game we've played against them, we've been the team that has attacked. At the end, they wait for our mistakes and that's how they score. They can't create anything off of us."
Wednesday, however, the Galaxy controlled a good portion of the second half. The Galaxy outshot Chivas USA 17-8 and had a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal. Guzan made several outstanding saves to keep the match scoreless.
Ultimately, however, he had little chance of stopping Donovan. In the 82nd minute, Donovan broke free and raced inside the penalty area. Guzan charged toward him, well off his line and took Donovan down.
"He's already through. As soon as he pushed the ball past me, I really didn't have any other choice," Guzan said. "If I don't foul him, he walks in and touches it in for a goal. With the PK, you get a 50-50 chance."
To Martinez, the match was the same tired tune played again, only this time in front of an enormous audience. Throughout much of the season, Chivas USA has had the ball often but has just as often been beaten on counterattacks.
"We're supposed to be the worst team in MLS and we're the ones dominating the play and creating all the chances," Martinez said. "It's frustrating when supposedly better teams than us are sitting back and afraid."
The stadium was brimming to the top as most seats were filled. This size crowd is usually reserved for University of Southern California college football games; the atmosphere, however, trumped a typical USC crowd. Legion 1908, usually very vocal and influential at Chivas USA home matches at Home Depot Center, was larger than normal due to the CD Guadalajara-Club America match following the MLS match. But the crowd around them was equally as boisterous.
"It helped both teams," Martinez said. "You give more than 100 percent when you are playing in front of so many people."
As for Guzan, it was by far the most electric crowd he's ever been a part of. Before Wednesday, the only thing that compared was the first Chivas USA-Galaxy match at Home Depot Center, a sellout crowd that was 61,816 smaller than what he played in front of Wednesday night.
"It was an unbelievable feeling tonight," Guzan said.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.