Chivas USA striker Maicon Santos attacks (Scott Varley photo).
Chivas USA handed out its team awards after the game: goalkeeper Zach Thornton was named the team MVP, while Jonathan Bornstein earned Defender of the Year honors.
Bonus quote: Here’s defender Ante Jazic on why Chivas USA is having a hard time scoring more than two goals in a game:
“Or three. We haven’t scored three goals in one game the entire season. It’s strange. We create plays, but we can’t capitalize on them. It’s frustrating obviously, we’re playing well, everything up to the final (touch) but we’re missing goal that’s the most important thing. But y’now we’re working hard and I think we had a few unlucky breaks today, but obviously we’ve struggled to score goals at home – especially the the New York game. the San Jose game – we could have been Western Conference champions maybe two games ago if we’d scored just half our opportunities – so I mean the positive is we’re playing well, but we’re not finishing our chances though hopefully we can just keep grinding away.”
Chivas USA 2 Houston Dynamo 3
First things first: the result means Chivas USA meets the Galaxy in the opening game of their playoff series at 2 p.m. next Sunday (Nov. 1) in a game that’s also live on ESPN2.
A thrilling end to this one though: Chivas USA striker Eduardo Lillingston could have had a case for a stoppage time penalty after being knocked off the ball, while he also had a goal disallowed for offside and a looping header that just missed the upper 90 in the final 10 minutes after being set up by Justin Braun.
Chivas USA 2 Houston Dynamo 3
Eduardo Lillingston has pulled Chivas USA within one from the penalty spot after Jorge Flores was brought down in the box from behind by Andrew Hainault in the 87th minute.
Chivas USA 1 Dynamo 3
Chivas USA have pulled one back eight minutes after the Dynamo made it 3-0.
Justin Braun was the creator sending over a cross to the far post that was met by Paulo Nagamura who set up Michael Lahoud for a simple tap in in the 59th minute.
Sensing an opportunity, Preki has sent in Eduardo Lillingston for Maicon Santos up front with about 30 minutes left in the game.
Chivas USA 0 Houston Dynamo 3
This one really is over now. Paulo Nagamura uncharacteristically lost the ball in the box, Dynamo midfielder Geoff Cameron took advantage and fed Abe Thompson who put the ball in the net at the far post for the third Dynamo goal.
This will be Chivas USA’s worst home loss of the year if the result stands. Nice timing just before the playoffs.
Chivas USA 0 Houston Dynamo 2
The omens are not good for Chivas USA in this one.
The Goats haven’t scored three goals in a game since December 2008, so it appears unlikely they’ll be able to come back and will likely meet the Galaxy in the opening round of the playoffs.
Chivas USA’s ineptitude in front of net hasn’t helped. They had the better of the offensive play early on, but handicapped by the rec league talent of forward Justin Braun very little came off for them.
Braun was especially profligate, wasting four or five plays in a row with even simple passes going catastrophically awry and at least one shot that ended up going out for a throw in rather than anywhere near the net. Brawn also missed an early fifth minute chance when he only had goalkeeper Pat Onstad to beat.
A retooling of the attack is essential in the second half, but after the most recent display against Chicago Preki will undoubtedly be wondering who he can turn to for help.
Chivas USA 0 Houston Dynamo 2
Two goals in three minutes have changed the face of this game.
First the Dynamo took the lead from a 26th minute corner kick by Brad Davis, defender Mike Chabala knocking it on with his head at the far post to a lurking and unmarked Andrew Hainault who scored with a simple header right in front of the net.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 with a swift three-player move that moved from the Dynamo penalty area to the back of the Chivas USA net and met virtually no opposition en route. Dominic Oduro scored from a Brad Davis pass.
Galaxy fans will be watching this one as closely as Chivas USA supporters given that the clubs will meet next Sunday should Houston beat or tie the home team.
A half dozen changes for Preki today after Chivas USA’s rather meek 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire last time out.
Carey Talley and Ante Jazic replace Mariano Trujillo and Jonathan Bornstein at full back respectively, with Bornstein sliding into the middle in place of Shavar Thomas who drops to the bench.
In midfield, rookie Michael Lahoud and veteran Pablo Nagamura replace Gerson Mayen and Marcelo Saragosa, while up front it’s an all new strike force with Justin Braun and Maicon Santos preferred to Maykel Galindo and Eduardo Lillingston, both largely ineffective against Chicago.
The Chivas USA starting XI then: Thornton, Talley, Bornstein, Cuesta, Jazic, Padilla, Lahoud, Nagamura, Kljestan, Braun, Santos.
Striker Brian Ching is suspended for Houston, which starts the tandem of Luis Angel Landin and Dominic Oduro in attack.
The game is on Prime and TeleFutura.
Chivas USA (playing its third game in nine days) and the Houston Dynamo (eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday) stagger to the MLS finish line at noon at Home Depot Center with playoff seedings and pairings on the line for themselves and virtually every other club in MLS it seems.
The Galaxy, victors last night to clinch the Western Conference crown, will play the losers of the game on the road (although, of course, if Chivas USA loses the Galaxy won’t travel far) Sunday, Nov. 1 with the return leg set for exactly a week later. If today’s game ends in a tie the Galaxy will play Chivas USA, BTW.
Here’s more from the Houston Dynamo’s perspective.
Here are the playoff standings.
I’ll blog from the game; it’s also televised live on Prime and TeleFutura.
Notable: The Galaxy set a new club record tonight for shutouts – 12. Quite a turnaround from last year when the team had just two – a club-record low for a season.
Here’s former Galaxy Coach Frank Yallop on his old club’s playoff outlook –
“They’re well-organized. The big difference in any team is a person like Landon. He makes a good team very good. … They’re difficult to break down, they’re difficult to beat here and that’s going to be important.”
Key stat: Last year the Galaxy allowed a league-worst 62 goals; this year they allowed exactly half that number – 31.
Here’s Landon Donovan reflecting on the season –
“I think back to the beginning of the year when we had all those ties in a row. And I think we were all a little disappointed that we weren’t winning games, but you look back now and three, four, five of those ties have made a difference putting us where we are today. I think we were close then and now we’ve become a complete team and we’re playing very well.”
Here’s Landon Donovan on that smash and grab second goal that started with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts –
“We’ve become good at hitting things quickly like that and we’ve got some guys with pace, we’ve got good passers and we have that ability to catch teams quickly with a lot of their team already out of the play. It makes a big difference.”
Here’s David Beckham on the performance –
“We’ve played better in games, we’ve passed the ball better in games, but y’know we won the game. It pleased the fans and made us top so y’know we don’t stop here there’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re happy with the position we’re in.”
Here’s Dema Kovalenko on his tough year that saw him struggle with injuries that restricted him to 14 appearances and two assists –
“It was a very difficult season. I’m just so happy. I pray every day – I thank every day. I’m just glad I’m back playing at the right time. Hopefully, my leg is better. I’m not 100 percent – I miss a long time.”
Here’s Donovan on the comparison between the last Galaxy team to make the playoffs in 2005 and this year’s model –
“This team is a lot further ahead. That year we snuck into the playoffs and I remember Chivas and Salt Lake were expansion teams and the majority of our wins came against those teams. This year we’ve beaten everybody, we’ve beaten the good teams, we’ve beaten the teams we should be beating and I think we have a good foundation for the future. We’ve got everything to gain this year and we have a real chance to win. We’re gonna go for it.”
Here’s Donovan on his U.S. Player of the Year & Decade awards –
“I’m very proud of it. I’ve worked very hard especially over the last three years to get where I am today and it doesn’t mean I’m done, but it’s a big honor for sure.”
Here’s Beckham on his fuzzy face and whether he’s heard that growing a beard is a bit of a playoff ritual over here –
“I only heard about it the other day. Halloween is coming up and I was thinking of Wolverine. It’s nothing to do with any playoff ritual, I’m just lazy – I can’t be bothered to shave. And everyone keeps telling me to cut it, so I’m stubborn.”
Finally, the last word goes to Donovan on the Galaxy profile coming into the playoffs –
“I can’t imagine anyone wants to play us right now.”
Updated 1:20 a.m.: Scratch that. Let’s give the last word to Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan who throws down the gauntlet via Twitter – “In bed… LA locked up 1st place so were playing for 2nd tomorrow… dreaming of goals.”