CARSON, Calif. — Juan Pablo Ángel got the headlines as Chivas USA defeated Toronto FC on Saturday, but another Chivas attacker had a fine night in his own right.
Justin Braun returned to his goal scoring ways, tallying his first in two months in the 71st minute of Chivas' victory. Braun had not scored since his registering a hat trick against the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 23.
Lining up on the flanks for the second match in a row, Braun was able to get forward and use his size to challenge the Toronto back four during his 78 minutes of action. His goal was not his only contribution into the attack, as Braun prevented a turnover in the 11th minute that ultimately led to Ángel’s opening goal.
The last few months have been frustrating for Braun, who has found himself in and out of the lineup, but the diligent striker has remained focused on regaining the form that made him the talk of MLS earlier in the season.
"It has been a while,” Braun chuckled when asked about his goal. “It's nice to get one; my confidence is good right now any time you score it increases it. Hopefully I can build on that and close out the season well."
A record-setting night for JPA
Ángel’s stunning form has finally reached record-breaking proportions.
Not only did the Colombian score two goals against Toronto, but he also set team records for shots (nine) and shots on goal (five) in just his sixth match for the Rojiblancos. It also marked the first time he’s scored two goals in consecutive games in his five seasons in MLS.
Ángel has been on a torrid pace in recent weeks, scoring six goals since moving over from the LA Galaxy, and he has been partly responsible for keeping Chivas’ slim playoff hopes alive.
"He came here and looked at it as a challenge,” head coach Robin Fraser said Saturday. “We needed help. Big-time players like big-time challenges. His leadership has been invaluable to us."
Pearce on the shelf again?
The Goats’ night wasn’t entirely celebratory — Heath Pearce was left off the game day roster. Pearce tweaked his hamstring during training on Friday after playing a full 90 minutes against D.C. United last Wednesday.
Without Pearce, veteran defender Andrew Boyens was able to step in and he performed admirably against Toronto forward Danny Koevermans.
“Certainly [Pearce] is a huge part of our team and obviously it was disappointing that it happened,” Fraser said. “I've said it so many times this year, and I feel that today is a big example of all of it: If someone goes down, then someone else has to do a job. I was very proud of the way Andy handled it tonight.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.