CARSON, Calif. - The 2009 Major League Soccer season kicked off for twoWestern Conference rivals with a Chivas USA taking a slender 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. It was a spirited and chippy performance by both teams in front of a colorful and rambunctious crowd of 16,453 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
New Mexican signings Mariano Trujillo and Eduardo Lillingston started
for Chivas USA, with right back Trujillo impressing with his
Colorado lined up in a straight-forward 4-4-2,
and should be disappointed not to have taken any points after controlling
the majority of the game.
The game started with Chivas USA on the back foot.
Colorado, despite being the away team, were pressing the issue and
looked far more eager and fit. Colin Clark and Conor Casey were the
offensive sparks, with the Chivas defenders struggling to get the ball
away or push either off the ball.
It was Clark who set the tone early. In the seventh minute, the
winger cut inside, played a one-two with Casey, and launched a shot
from 25 yards just wide. Casey was again the provider three minutes
later when his cross sliced between the Chivas defensive line and
goalkeeper Zach Thornton, but no Colorado player had gambled and made
the run to tap the ball into a gaping net.
Casey got on the end of a chance a minute later. A Kosuke Kimura
cross was headed backwards by Omar Cummings. The looping ball found
Thornton struggling to make it back, but the former Chicago Fire keeper
managed to paw it away. The rebound fell to Casey, but he could only
push his shot onto the post.
Chivas USA's first real chance came midway through the half.
Mariano Trujillo chipped a ball beyond the Colorado defense which found
Eduardo Lillingston open in the box. The Mexican smashed his first shot
into the on-rushing Matt Pickens and his second into the fans.
The home side would rue that miss three minutes later when Colorado
took the lead. Ugo Ihemelu's throw in from the right side bounced back
to him, and he hooked in a curving left-footed shot. Thornton
inexplicably dropped the rebound, which Cummings more than happily
Chivas' attempts to push into attack were mostly impotent for the
remainder of the half, although Sacha Kljestan launched a strike from
distance that Pickens did well to push away at full stretch. The half
came to a close just as Kljestan slid into Kimura with his studs up,
leaving the right back sprawled on the ground several minutes after the
referee had blown his whistle for halftime with Colorado a goal to the
Chivas USA head coach Preki wasted little time in
attempting to reverse the scoreline, throwing in pacey striker Maykel
Galindo for Lillingston at the beginning of the half. He then removed
Atiba Harris in favor of rookie midfielder Michael Lahoud in the 54th
minute, possibly because Harris had picked up a yellow card for a late
tackle three minutes earlier.
Just seconds later, Chivas equalized. Galindo powered through the
Colorado defense, and laid the ball off horizontally just atop the
18-yard-box. Jesse Marsch shielded the ball, but turned in time to let
midfield partner Paulo Nagamura smash a low drive into the bottom left
Four minutes later, Chivas USA were ahead. A Trujillo cross was
headed away by Kimura, but only as far as Nagamura. The Brazilian found
the same corner for his second goal of the night.
The Rapids pushed
back immediately. Cummings laid off a low cross in front of an open net
after drawing out Thornton, only for the Chivas USA defense to scramble
it away. Casey hit a ball into the side netting, after a Clark
cross fell to him. Chivas struggled to break out of the sustained
pressure by Colorado, as the visitors refused to give up.
In one rare chance on the counterattack for Chivas, Lahoud struck a
deep cross that Kljestan headed towards goal from a tight angle.
Pickens acrobatically leaped and kicked it away from his net to
preserve the one-goal deficit.
A couple more scares befell both teams, but in the end, Chivas USA
managed to hold on to their lead, and take their first points of the
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com