CARSON, Calif. – For a year now, the Chivas USA coaching staff has stressed the importance of crossing situations to Jorge Villafaña. After his contributions on Juan Pablo Angel’s game-winner on Wednesday night against Montreal, it appears that the work is paying off.
The pair entered the field together on a double substitution in the 77th minute and immediately helped create the goal that gave Chivas their second home win of the season. Villafaña found himself in space as he made his run down the left, but rather than get a cross off quickly, he chose to press toward the endline and eventually cut past former teammate Zarek Valentin before launching the decisive cross.
GOAL: Villafaña sets up Angel
Villafaña’s cross was indicative of the club’s intention to be more aggressive in the final third after struggling to score throughout the early part of the season. When asked after the match if he could have fired such a pinpoint cross last year, Villafaña was doubtful, but he admitted that the old adage was true: practice makes perfect.
“I don’t think so because I’ve been working a lot on those plays in practices and you might not think that it’s going to work, but when it comes, it comes and right now it gave us the three points,” said Villafaña. “I’ve been working on [crosses] every day. Every day after practice, I just stay and take 50 crosses every day in practice and you can see that on the field. Luckily Juan Pablo was there and put it in.”
Smokescreen helps Chivas?
One of the more intriguing moments in Chivas’ victory came between the 83rd and 84th minutes when Montreal created a scramble in the box that was eventually scooped up by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
While the situation may sound routine, it was anything but as Kennedy and the rest of the players on the field were forced to contend with a smokescreen that had been created when a smoke bomb was released by Chivas’ supporters group, “the Union Ultras,” just moments earlier.
Although the goalkeeper admits that he has no plans to tell the supporters group to stop releasing the bombs, he admitted that it added a little excitement to the match.
“Oh my God, that was a little dodgy, wasnt it?” Kennedy told reporters of the situation after the game. "Who knows [if it helped]? It worked out. All I know is that was just a little added focus.”
But head coach Robin Fraser believed that the smokescreen may have actually benefited his club as they snuffed out the Montreal scoring chance.
“I felt like the time that the smoke was everywhere, the ball was popping clear to Dan, so at that point it may have helped us,” said Fraser.
Chivas learn potential USOC semifinal pairing
On Thursday, Chivas learned their potential opponent for the US Open Cup semifinals should the Rojiblancos defeat USL-Pro side Charlotte Eagles in the quarterfinals next week. If Chivas advance, they will travel to face the winner of the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes on July 10.
If Seattle comes out on top, Chivas would travel to Starfire Sports Complex while if San Jose wins, the Earthquakes would host the game at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.