For the second time, the Los Angeles Galaxy got the better of their stadium mates, late goals from Pablo Chinchilla and Peter Vagenas giving them a 2-0 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center.
Technically the victory marked the first time this season the Galaxy have taken points in an away match, as Chivas USA were the home team Saturday. But the stadium was filled with supporters from both sides, though the teams are on opposite ends of the Western Conference table.
The first half was an up and down affair, with both teams creating several opportunities. While the more of the chances fell in favor of the Galaxy, both 'keepers were tested in the opening 45 minutes. Both teams came out and gave the game a feeling of a prizefight, going blow for blow hoping to land that early knockout punch.
Possession traded back on forth with both sides dominating for stretches. Chances came early and often, and in the ninth minute, Galaxy rookie Ugo Ihemelu was almost victimized by Francisco Mendoza on the right side. The Chivas USA forward got in behind Ihemelu before letting loose, but his sharp angle effort was saved by Kevin Hartman who left no rebound.
Moments later Martin Zuniga was nearly victimized by a circus shot from Jovan Kirovski. Kirovski looked up from just past the halfway line and saw Zuniga well off his line. The Galaxy forward attempted a 45-yard chip that twisted Zuniga around. The retreating 'keeper was beat by the shot, but Kirovski's hopeful attempt went wide.
The first 20 minutes definitely belonged to the Galaxy, and just five minutes after Kirovski's attempt, Vagenas located Cobi Jones alone in the box. Jones chested down the cross and unleashed a wicked volley, but right into the chest of Zuniga and he punched away the fierce drive.
While possession began to swing in favor of the "home" side, the last 10 minutes of the half were nothing short of a track meet. The most dangerous chance of the game in the half came just before the break when Paulo Nagamura and Kirovski worked a one-two, and when Nagamura's volley squirted underneath the arm of Zuniga, a loud roar came from the crowd. Zuniga got just enough of the ball though to slow it down and allow himself to scramble back and collect the shot before it crossed the line.
Just minutes later, Hartman made his best save of the half. A point blank shot from Mendoza forced Hartman to make a pure reaction save in order to go into the locker rooms tied at zero.
Neither team came out for the second half pulling any punches. The up and down action continued, as both teams were searching for that opening goal. Sensing the pace, and recognizing the grueling schedule they'd been subjected to over the bast week, the Galaxy began to slow the game down, holding possession in order to find the opportune moment to strike.
It came in the 62nd minute. Chinchilla, making just his second start for the Galaxy got on the end of a Kirovski free kick, and his completely free header from the edge of the six-yard box found net, even though Zuniga got a hand to it.
Although Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson brought on the first of two defenders, not wanting to get into an entirely defensive posture, the Galaxy continued to push, and would double the margin in the 76th minute.
After a bit of individual brilliance from Kirovski, who dribbled through a slew of Chivas defenders, he found Vagenas streaking down the heart of the 18-yard box. The savvy veteran collected the ball and calmly put the ball under Zuniga for his fourth goal of the year.
Hartman wasn't without work in the second half though. A long-range shot from Mendoza appeared to have the Galaxy netminder beat, but only the slightest of touches from a sprawled out Hartman kept his second consecutive clean sheet, and in the end, an important "road" win and a needed three points to keep pace with Western Conference leader FC Dallas.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (6-2-1) vs. CD Chivas USA (1-8-1)
May 28, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
LA -- Pablo Chinchilla 1 (Jovan Kirovski 3) 62
LA -- Peter Vagenas 4 (Jovan Kirovski 4) 76
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Ugo Ihemelu, Pablo Chinchilla, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones (Michael Umana 84), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Guillermo Ramirez (Paul Broome 65), Ednaldo da Conceicao (Herculez Gomez 77), Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Ned Grabavoy.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18 (Jovan Kirovski 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Jovan Kirovski 2, Paulo Nagamura 2); FOULS: 11 (Paulo Nagamura 3); OFFSIDES: 6 (Ednaldo da Conceicao 2, Cobi Jones 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Jovan Kirovski 3); SAVES: 5 (Kevin Hartman 5)
CD Chivas USA -- Martin Zuniga, Ezra Hendrickson, Alfonso Loera (Francisco Gomez 87), Orlando Perez (Matt Taylor 79), Douglas Sequeira, Ryan Suarez, Ramon Ramirez, Hector Cuadros (Arturo Torres 69), Isaac Romo, Thiago Martins, Francisco Mendoza.
Substitutes Not Used: Victor Arbelaez, Armando Begines, Milton Blanco, Brad Guzan, Christian Jimenez, Aaron Lopez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Francisco Mendoza 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Francisco Mendoza 4); FOULS: 15 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Isaac Romo 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Francisco Mendoza 1, Ramon Ramirez 1); SAVES: 7 (Martin Zuniga 7)
LA -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; Reckless Foul) 63
LA -- Herculez Gomez (caution; Reckless Foul) 83
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: -George Vergara; George Gansner
4th Official: Colin Arblaster
Time of Game: 1:49
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.