Juan Pablo Garcia

Chivas USA succumb to late goals

Ramon Ramirez scored on a free kick early in the second half but the lead did not hold up as the San Jose Earthquakes bagged a late equalizer and game-winner as Chivas USA fell 2-1 against the Western Conference leaders at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night.

Chivas nearly avenged last week's 3-0 loss at San Jose but poor defending did the Red-and-White in yet again.

In honor of Mexican Independence Day, Chivas USA donned their third jerseys, which consisted of green shirts, white shorts and red socks. The green shirt, however, was a tad bit darker than that of the Mexican national team.

Although Chivas somewhat resembled El Tricolor, the club fielded natives of Costa Rica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States.

Early on, neither side took the initiative with the ball. After a series of forceful fouls and tough challenges from both sides, it was Francisco Mendoza who was booked for knocking down San Jose's Mark Chung in the 20th minute. Antonio Martinez immediately protested after Quakes defender Danny Califf sent Martinez flying on a slide tackle minutes earlier.

Chivas had the best of the chances on goal in the half. Francisco Palencia knocked a header just wide of the right post in the 32nd minute. Mendoza sailed in an arcing cross from the right flank and although Palencia did well to get to the ball, the ball only grazed the post.

Douglas Sequeira barely missed putting away a goal off a set piece but his one-timed shot from Ramirez's bending 20-yard free kick went about a foot wide of the left post.

It was on a set piece that Chivas finally broke through. Mendoza was brought down by Wade Barrett some 27 yards straight out from goal and Ramirez buried a 27-yard free kick in the left corner of the net in the 52nd minute. For Ramirez, the last time he scored a goal wearing a green-white-and-red kit was Sept. 3, 2000, when he scored a goal in Mexico's 7-1 rout of Panama in a World Cup qualifier.

Torres narrowly missed putting Chivas up by a pair when his header sailed just wide a minute later.

Brad Guzan came up with a stellar save in the 62nd minute. Dwayne De Rosario found a sea down the left side and dribbled toward the touchline before knocking the ball to the middle of the area. Ricardo Clark ran onto the ball unmarked and fired toward goal. Guzan, however, reacted quickly and got enough of the ball to send it into touch.

Chivas coach Hans Westerhof lifted Ramirez in the 73rd minute in favor of Jesus Ochoa. Palencia wore the captain's armband for the remainder of the match.

San Jose broke through Chivas USA's defense in the 82nd minute. A corner was swung in from the left to the back post, where Eddie Robinson headed it back across goal. Califf rose up completely unmarked to head the ball into the empty net from point-blank range, though he dinged his head on a late-arriving Ezra Hendrickson's boot and sat on the pitch for several minutes.

Juan Pablo Garcia nearly scored on a brilliant shot in the 86th minute. After shaking off several San Jose defenders, Garcia ripped a shot from the top of the penalty area, but Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad did well to save the ball.

The Quakes then hit for the winner in stoppage time after Brian Mullan shrugged off his marker on the right edge of the penalty area and swung in a cross to Moreno, who found space inside the area and powered a close-range header into an empty net.

MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Alejandro Moreno (San Jose Earthquakes)

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.