CARSON, Calif. - For the second time in as many games, Chivas USA could not hold onto a one-goal lead as the Colorado Rapids came from behind to beat Chivas USA 3-1 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Although Saturday's circumstances were different than the week before against San Jose - when Chivas surrendered two goals in the last 10 minutes - the club's defensive breakdowns nevertheless led to yet another loss, the 21st in 29 games this season for Chivas USA. The Rapids, meanwhile, clinched the fourth and final Western Conference playoff spot with the result.
Chivas USA put a substantial amount of pressure on the Rapids' net but were denied by poor marksmanship and timely saves by Rapids goalkeeper Byron Foss.
The Red-and-White took the initiative early on. Jesus Ochoa, starting in place of the suspended Francisco Mendoza, got the ball down the left flank and sent a cross towards goal barely a minute into the match, but Foss gobbled up the ball without problems. Joe Cannon was not available Saturday due to an abdominal strain.
Brad Guzan was tested in the 10th minute but Jean Philippe Peguero's long-range shot did not trouble the rookie Chivas 'keeper.
Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia connected on a brilliant play in the 14th minute. Palencia sent Kyle Beckerman sprawling as he faked him out of his boots some 40 yards out. Palencia slotted a pass to Garcia, who spun and shook free from a pair of Rapids defenders. Garcia unloaded a shot on goal but Foss did well to push it into touch.
Five minutes later, Palencia set up Arturo Torres for Chivas USA's first goal. Palencia beat Pablo Mastroeni to a ball in the left corner of the box. Palencia then sent a looping cross to the far post toward Torres, who had time to set up and power a header past Foss. It was Torres' second goal of the season and third of his MLS career.
Palencia kept the pressure on the Rapids. In the 23rd minute, "El Gatillero" blasted a 20-yard shot right at Foss, who knocked the ball down and scooped it up before Chivas players could get to the rebound.
But it was the Rapids who broke through next. Eric Denton went down the right flank and beat Ochoa and Orlando Perez and sent a cross as a hard-charging Guzan raced toward the ball. Peguero beat Chivas' Ezra Hendrickson to the ball and slammed it home in the 25th minute.
On the half-hour mark, Chivas broke down Colorado's defense but Palencia sent a 15-yard shot well over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Palencia got the ball 22 yards out, spun and fired a shot right at Foss. Palencia continued his shooting display in the 35th minute after a loose ball fell to his feet as he stood at the top of the penalty area. Palencia unloaded yet another shot - Chivas USA's seventh of the match - but again the ball was not on frame and sailed over the crossbar.
Less than one minute into the second half, Colorado was awarded a penalty kick after Hendrickson took down Jovan Kirovski inside the area. Kirovski buried the shot past a helpless Guzan.
In the 49th minute, Chivas skipper Ramon Ramirez was booked after a tackle from behind on Peguero in the middle of the field, then in the 59th minute, Douglas Sequeira was booked after a hard challenge on Kirovski. With the booking, Sequeira will be suspended for the next match due to accumulation of caution points.
Chivas coach Hans Westerhof took Ramirez out in the 60th minute and brought on striker Isaac Romo. Romo played his customary striker position while Palencia, who had been at center forward, dropped back into the midfield. Ochoa slid into Ramirez's defensive midfield spot.
It appeared that Sequeira had equalized the match in the 70th minute but when he knocked in a header off a free kick, the Costa Rican international was in an offside position.
Matt Taylor, who had replaced Torres minutes earlier, flicked a header on goal in the 74th minute but the ball went just wide of the far post.
Guzan was nearly taken out of the match 10 minutes from time after making a stellar save on Diego Serna. Guzan came charging off his line and stopped Serna cold but Serna's left shin hit Guzan square in the face. After he was tended to, however, "El Gusano" stayed on the pitch.
With Chivas throwing everything forward, Dedi Ben Dayan scored on a counterattack in stoppage time, turning home a Dan Gargan cross from the right flank after a long run.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jean-Philippe Peguero (Colorado Rapids)
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.