all at home, and all against West opposition -- in a bizarre climax. The teams traded goals six minutes apart in the first half: Tyrone Marshall just reached in ahead of Chris Albright to poke home a corner kick (21), but Jean-Philippe Peguero powered home a header from the heart of the penalty area from a pinpoint Chris Henderson cross to pull the Rapids level.
Just as the match seems destined to wind down to a draw, the Galaxy won a penalty when Nat Borchers tripped up Guillermo Ramirez as he burst into the area, and Landon Donovan converted (86). Yet just two minutes later the Rapids received a penalty of their own, L.A. goalkeeper Kevin Hartman sending Luchi Gonzalez head over heels with his challenge as he slashed through the box, Jeff Cunningham neatly converting from the spot.
But just as the clock ticked over for the full 90 minutes, substitute Guy Melamed was adjudged by referee Jair Marrufo to have hauled back Marshall as they challenged for a free kick swung into the box, and despite the bitter recriminations from the Colorado players, Donovan sent Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon the wrong way for his league-leading fifth goal of the campaign.
"I give (the ref) the first one, sure. The second one, no way!" center back Nat Borchers said. "The first PK they called, against me, I think it was valid. I broke up a clear scoring opportunity. I did what I had to do. I disagree with the ref's call on (the last penalty). In a situation like that, two guys are going for the ball, they're grabbing each other and, if anything, that call should be called the other way. There's a physical element to this game where you got to let the players play. I don't think there was any reason to make that call."
Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo made two changes to the team that lost 3-1 at home to the MetroStars the previous weekend. Leo Cullen started in midfield for Terry Cooke, while Jean-Philippe Peguero made his return to the lineup, starting up top alongside Luchi Gonzalez as Alain Nkong was dropped.
Here's Clavijo's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon, Hunter Freeman, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Eric Denton (Alain Nkong 89) - Chris Henderson, Leo Cullen (Guy Melamed 60), Kyle Beckerman, Mark Chung - Luchi Gonzalez, Jean Philippe Peguero (Jeff Cunningham 75).
The loss was the Rapids fourth of the season. Last year, the Rapids also lost their fourth game of the season to the Galaxy - but that came on July 10, the 15th game (and halfway point) of the campaign.
There was a positive in the return of Jean-Philippe Peguero to the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener, and he scored his first goal of the campaign. He played 75 minutes, slowed by offseason hip surgery and then a sprained ankle. Jeff Cunningham came in for him in the 75th minute, and scored his team-leading third goal - all off the subs bench.
Clavijo said the two strikers will be looked at as a starting pair once both regain 90-minute fitness. "It's a great option to have," he said. "I would say Jeff is, maybe, another week, 10 days away. Peguero, you could see he was not match-fit."
The first match between the expansion clubs was a crazy affair. Chivas USA took a lead for the first time ever at home in the 39th minute from the penalty spot. Real Salt Lake defender Marlon Rojas was ruled to have knocked down a cross with his hand on the edge of the area, and Hector Cuadros finished from the spot.
Real finished with 10 men - but through bizarre circumstances. Goalkeeper D.J. Countess was injured in the 80th minute when he fell awkwardly on his shoulder - but coach John Ellinger had already used his three substitutions. That meant Brian Kamler had to pick up the gloves and go between the posts, but he was not called upon to make a single stop.
"What do you say when you make history?" defender Ryan Suarez said. "There are no words to say how nice it feels, not only go get this monkey off our backs, but just to shut everybody up. The media, the fans -- we've heard 'Chivas are no good,' 'Chivas, why are they here in the United States?'"
Chivas USA coach Thomas Rongen made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the New England Revolution the weekend before, while returning to the 4-3-3 scheme he had begun the season with. Armando Begines and Francisco Mendoza made their first Chivas USA starts, at left back and left wing respectively. Ramon Ramirez moved into a more attacking central midfield role, as Matt Taylor went to the substitutes' bench, as did Jesus Ochoa.
Here's Rongen's team (4-3-3): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Alfonso Loera, Ryan Suarez, Armando Begines - Douglas Sequeira, Ramon Ramirez (Jesus Ochoa 85), Orlando Perez - Hector Cuadros, Thiago Martins, Francisco Mendoza
"We knew the importance of this game. It wasn't necessarily because of the two expansion teams that made it a little bit more special. We knew that we didn't have a win under our belt after five games. It's important for the team's psyche," Rongen said. "This team hasn't quit. ... We came back today with a lot of resilience again."
Chivas USA won their first-ever game in club history, using a first-half penalty kick for the only goal of the game as they defeated Real Salt Lake in a meeting of the league's two newest teams on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA are now tied for fifth place in the Western Conference with the Colorado Rapids, both with four points from six matches, one behind Real Salt Lake and now eight points behind fellow stadium inhabitant Los Angeles Galaxy.
While it was essentially a 4-3-3 that Rongen played, there were small differences. The wingers of Cuadros and Mendoza were slightly withdrawn, and Ramirez - who had essentially been the holding midfielder - filled the playmaking role.
"You want to utilize players in their best position," Rongen said. "But it takes time to find the right chemistry. These are some of the growing pains of an expansion team. You've got to tinker a little bit. There's so many different ingredients."
And Rongen said he will likely stay with exactly the same team for the trip to Colorado. "You'll probably see the same 11 start on Saturday, barring injuries," Rongen said. "You have to reward that performance, and what it does is start to build a chemistry that we've been looking for."
Chivas head to Colorado hoping to find some magic on the road. They claimed a late draw in San Jose, and battled the league-leading New England Revolution to a narrow loss, the only goal of the game coming with two minutes left.
"Winning on the road will give the team even more confidence than what we have gathered," Cuadros said. "Right now we're feeling optimistic that we're going to go out there and propose the game instead of just holding back and see how they bring it to us."
Over the next 10 days, the Red-and-White can take a giant leap in the Western Conference table. After the Rapids match this weekend, Chivas USA travel to Real Salt Lake for a rematch next Wednesday. "These are six-point games," Suarez said. "(Saturday) we got six points. That's a huge victory."
Cuadros took the penalty against Countess without any prior knowledge. Two seasons ago, with the Dallas Burn, Countess saved two penalties in a game against the MetroStars. "I just found out that he's a penalero, a keeper that's good at stopping penalties," Cuadros said. "I guess it's good then that I didn't know that when I took it."