Change proved to be positive for Chivas USA as the club gained its first point in nearly a month in a 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Wizards at The Home Depot Center on Wednesday.
On Monday, Chivas USA relieved Thomas Rongen of his coaching duties. Wednesday, assistant coach Javier "Zully" Ledesma served as the interim coach as Hans Westerhof, reportedly the club's next coach, awaited approval of a work visa.
Under Ledesma, the Red-and-White stuck to its game plan. Francisco Mendoza did not start and Douglas Sequeira was away on national team duty, but otherwise the club fielded a familiar starting 11. The club responded to Rongen's removal by playing a composed match. Now with a win and two draws from 11 matches (five points), Chivas USA had not had a positive result since beating Real Salt Lake 1-0 on May 7. Previously, the Red-and-White had not had a point since April 9, a 3-3 draw at San Jose.
Chivas USA's first set piece nearly paid off. Francisco Gomez chipped a free kick from 25 yards out to the middle of the area and Chivas USA striker Isaac Romo flicked the ball to the far post but the ball sailed just wide.
Kansas City drew first blood. As Chivas USA right back Ezra Hendrickson and central defender Alfonso Loera floated to the middle of the field, Wizards left back Jose Burciaga Jr. was wide open down the left flank. He got the ball in Chivas USA's third of the field, took his time setting up and unleashed a 25-yard blast from the left of the penalty area. His shot caromed off the far post and nestled into the net.
Up to that point, the Wizards had surrendered possession and dropped eight or nine players behind the ball. But even as the Wizards continued to drop numbers behind Chivas USA's attackers, the Red-and-White broke through. Ramon Ramirez unloaded a 27-yard free kick on goal. The ball bent and swerved and appeared to fool Oshoniyi, who dived to his left and managed just a hand on the ball. The goal was Ramirez's first Major League Soccer tally.
Through 45 minutes, Chivas USA had just one shot on goal and three shots overall. The Red-and-White's defense allowed just two shots on goal to the defensive-minded Wizards.
Chivas USA nearly cashed in a pair of set pieces early in the second half. In the 53rd minute, former Wizards midfielder Francisco Gomez nailed a 25-yard free kick that just whistled the left post. Minutes later, Gomez again provided a bit of danger, this time of a corner kick. He sailed his service to the front of the area and Hendrickson headed the ball on goal but a diving Oshoniyi pushed the ball out of bounds.
In the 67th minute, Chivas USA swapped Franciscos as "Pancho" Mendoza came on for "Paco" Gomez. The latter's blazing speed had helped energize Chivas USA's attack in recent weeks. However, Mendoza's first few touches were not sharp as he took awhile adjusting to the match, perhaps a by-product of not having started for the first time in five matches.
Chivas USA barely threatened over the final half hour, but the Wizards nearly snatched the three points when Chris Klein beat a pair of Chivas defenders at the top of the box. But his shot skimmed just wide, and Chivas escaped with at least a share.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Ramon Ramirez (Chivas USA)
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Kansas City Wizards (4-2-4) vs. CD Chivas USA (1-8-2)
June 01, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
KC -- Jose Burciaga Jr. 1 (unassisted) 30
CHV -- Ramon Ramirez 1 (unassisted) 38
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Brian Roberts 89), Alex Zotinca, Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Diego Gutierrez, Scott Sealy (Justin Detter 72), Davy Arnaud (Jack Jewsbury 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Ryan Pore.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Chris Klein 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 1, Chris Klein 1); FOULS: 16 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Chris Klein 3); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 2); SAVES: 3 (Bo Oshoniyi 3)
CD Chivas USA -- Martin Zuniga, Ezra Hendrickson, Armando Begines, Orlando Perez (Antonio Martinez 45), Ryan Suarez, Alfonso Loera, Francisco Gomez (Francisco Mendoza 67), Thiago Martins, Ramon Ramirez, Hector Cuadros, Isaac Romo (Matt Taylor 83).
Substitutes Not Used: Esteban Arias, Brad Guzan, Aaron Lopez, Arturo Torres.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Isaac Romo 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 13 (Hector Cuadros 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Matt Taylor 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Francisco Gomez 1, Antonio Martinez 1); SAVES: 1 (Martin Zuniga 1)
KC -- Diego Gutierrez (caution; Reckless Foul) 56
CHV -- Thiago Martins (caution; Verbal Distraction) 58
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: -Steven Davidson; David Bragg
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.