CARSON, Calif. – José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá ended his first month in charge of Chivas USA on a high note, with his squad capping its March schedule with a 2-1 victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
Star forward Juan Agudelo left with an apparent left leg injury, but Chivas USA – who led MLS in goals heading into the match – still managed to produce without arguably their most influential attacker. Eric Ávila scored the pick of the goals with a dazzling right-footed volley in the 55th minute to give the home team a 2-0 cushion that it would not relent.
The Rojiblancos have now earned points for the fourth consecutive match and maintain their hold on the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Vancouver, who suffered their first-ever loss to the Rojiblancos, cut the deficit in half in the 64th minute on Kenny Miller’s opportunistic header. Dan Kennedy, who has yet to keep a clean sheet this season, initially saved Erik Hurtado’s strong left-footed strike, but Miller – who had just come on for Gershon Koffie – capitalized on the open net to score his team-leading second goal of the year.
Kekuta Manneh had a breakaway opportunity in the 90th minute but squandered it as Kennedy ran out to meet him at full speed, preserving the victory.
Chivas USA (3-1-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when Carlos Álvarez’s crossing pass from just outside the box deflected off Jun Marques Davidson’s shoulder and past goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who was unable to react in time, a strike that went down as an own goal for the Japanese midfielder.
All eight of Chivas USA’s previous goals this season had come in the second half.
The home team was fortunate to hold an advantage at halftime, though, as the Whitecaps had 12 attempts on goal to Chivas USA’s four. Vancouver turned up its pressure and nearly netted the equalizer in the 23rd minute, but Daigo Kobayashi misfired on a point-blank rebound opportunity that had him lying on the grass with his face down.
Agudelo, Chivas' leading scorer, left in the 34th minute holding his left hamstring. José Erick Correa came on as a substitute.
The Whitecaps (2-2-0) had earned points in their five previous matches against Chivas USA, winning three times and tying twice in their short MLS history. It was the second consecutive loss for Vancouver after winning their first two games of 2013.
Chivas USA will now enjoy a week off from MLS action, with their match against the Seattle Sounders having been pushed back to do the Sounders' CONCACAF Champions League commitments. The Rojiblancos will return to action the following week, when they host the Colorado Rapids on April 13, while the Whitecaps will head up the California coast to face San Jose on April 6.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eric Ávila||Dangerous every time he got the ball in both midfield and attack, not to mention his peach of a goal that stood up as the game-winner|
|2||Carlos Álvarez||The rookie has come into his own as a driving force in Chivas USA's midfielder and strutted his stuff again tonight, pulling the strings for Chelís' team|
|3||Erik Hurtado||Caused all sorts of problems for Chivas USA off the bench and sparked most of the Whitecaps' late-game attacks|