Result: Kansas City Wizards 1 Chivas USA 2

Colorado’s 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake tonight meant Chivas USA clinched a playoff place regardless of this result.

Still, Chivas USA kept their unbeaten home record intact, jumped to first place in the Western Conference with a game in hand over nearest rivals the Houston Dynamo and can now look forward to next Saturday’s visit by the Chicago Fire and former CD Guadalajara nemesis Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

Ante Razov scored his 108th and 109th goals of his career – the winner, a curling left-footed strike coming in second half stoppage time – putting him just one behind Jaime Moreno as MLS’ leading alltime goalscorer.

Chivas USA struck first in the 69th minute, when substitute Ramon Nunez sent a telling pass through the Wizards’ rearguard that found Panchito Mendoza on the left wing. Mendoza’s cross was met by Ante Razov for his tenth of the year.

The Wizards tied it three minutes later, a long ball out of the back finding playmaker Carlos Marinelli who crossed to fellow Argentine Eloy Colombano. It was the rookie’s first-ever MLS goal.

Razov’s second was a worthy winner, a stunning 20-yard strike off a pass from Lawson Vaughn that left Hartman with no chance and no 1,000th save. (He’s now on 999).

“It would have been a (naughty word) hell of a save,” said Hartman, who is still a great quote, despite being in a different locker room. “To let a goal in, in that way, was very disturbing.”

Hartman thought the Wizards were the better team on the night, despite losing.

“I didn’t necessarily think they were worth the three points tonight,” he said.”Chivas is a team that plays unbelievable possession soccer and I thought we managed to disrupt that tonight.”

Preki agreed with Hartman about the result, but believed a modicum of justice had been done given that he thought Chivas USA dominated against the Wizards in Kansas City in July, yet lost.

“It feels very good to win when you don’t play well,” said Preki with an uncharacteristicly wide smile on his face. “I’m not going to feel bad about this.”

Chivas USA beat writer Ivan Orozco has the full details – and Razov remembers that July game against the Wizards, too, – in the game story.

Chivas USA are pretty stoked about Saturday night given the breathless press release the club issued early Sunday:

With its 2-1 win tonight over the Kansas City Wizards at Home Depot Center, Chivas USA has clinched a berth in the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs, for the second year in a row, with five games still remaining in the clubs 30-game MLS regular season.

Fans can reserve their seats for Chivas USAs first-round MLS Cup Playoff match (date and opponent TBD) by calling 1-877-CHIVAS-1 or visiting www.cdchivasusa.com. Fans should be sure to ask about the Chivas USA Playoff Pack, which starts at just $56 and gets fans four limited edition Chivas USA Playoff t-shirts and four tickets to Chivas USAs Western Conference Semifinal Series opener at Home Depot Center.

Led by rookie Head Coach Preki, a leading candidate for 2007 MLS Coach of the Year, along with MLS Newcomer of the Year contender Maykel Galindo, Goalkeeper of the Year frontrunner Brad Guzan, MLS Defender of the Year candidate Claudio Surez and MLS MVP contender Sacha Kljestan, among others, the Red-and-White have compiled an 14-6-5 record (W-L-T) to date, while remaining undefeated in 12 matches at home.

This marks the second year in a row that Chivas USA has earned a postseason berth. After joining Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise in 2005, when the team finished last in MLS with a 4-22-6 record (W-L-T), Chivas USA qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2006 after compiling a 10-9-13 regular-season record.

This year, Chivas USA seeks to surpass its first playoff run, in 2006, which ended with a heartbreaking last-minute loss to the Houston Dynamo in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals.

Following Saturdays win, Chivas USA closes out its September to Remember by hosting Mexican National Team legend Cuauhtmoc Blanco and the Chicago Fire next Saturday, Sept. 29 vs. (kickoff 7:30 p.m. PT). Tickets are available by calling 1-877-CHIVAS-1 or visiting www.cdchivasusa.com.

I’ll have more on the Chivas USA-Chicago Fire match-up focusing on the renewal of a Mexican rivalry in the U.S. (Blanco-Claudio Suarez and all) in my Tuesday column.

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