CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA started their final season under their current name in style on Sunday with a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Chicago Fire at StubHub Center. Defender Bobby Burling scored the game-winner in the 88th minute to give the home team all three points.
Burling's second career goal capped off a five-goal second period, as he headed past Sean Johnson in traffic off a Mauro Rosales corner kick.
Chivas, who only returned two starters in this match from their opening day lineup a year ago, saw a solid performance across the field, with the exception of a four-minute spell when Chicago scored both of their goals to bring the game to 2-2.
The scoring started in the second half when Erick "Cubo" Torres was pulled down in the box by Gonzalo Segares in the 54th minute. He then stepped up to convert the penalty, giving Chivas the lead in the 56th minute.
Rookie Thomas McNamara then doubled Chivas’ lead in the 59th minute, when he slotted home a cross from Leandro Barrera.
But the Fire didn’t give up, as new head coach Frank Yallop made two key substitutions to pull the game level midway through the second half.
Benji Joya got his first MLS goal in his first minute on the field, when he scored on a rebound from an Alex shot to pull Chicago back to within a goal in the 64th minute.
Then another Fire substitute, Quincy Amarikwa, hit a beautiful curling shot past an outstretched Dan Kennedy to tie the game up 2-2 with 20 minutes to play.
But Burling’s goal capped off a strong game overall for Chivas, who outplayed Chicago over 90 minutes.
The game was open in the first 15 minutes, as both sides built up possession and got into the final third, but neither side mustered a clear chance. Chivas controlled the run of play for the rest of the half, but couldn’t open the scoring, coming closest in the 32nd minute, when Rosales’ free kick was parried away by the outstretched Johnson.
Chris Rolfe had Chicago’s best chance of the first half a few minutes before the break, getting near the six-yard box with the ball, but he couldn’t manage a shot in the box after three Chivas defenders descended upon him, and eventually cleared the ball away.
A controversial call came in the 74th minute, when Segares was whistled for a handball, but the free kick was given just outside the box. Replays showed that he may have been just inside the box when the ball touched his hand, but referee William Anderson waived off Chivas' appeals for a second penalty.
Chicago play their next game on the road on March 16 in Portland, while Chivas host Vancouver, also next Sunday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mauro Rosales (CHV)||Put in an excellent Chivas debut and went the full 90, too. His technique, precise passing and set piece ability were all evident on the afternoon|
|2||Leandro Barrera (CHV)||Didn't make it much more than an hour, but generated some of Chivas' most dangerous attacks including the assist to McNamara|
|3||Benji Joya (CHI)||A deft addition to the game by Frank Yallop. Scored with his first MLS touch, then contributed a key pass for Chicago's equalizer|