Chivas USA fought back from a one-goal deficit at home to defeat the Colorado Rapids.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 offensive contribution.
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 slammed home.
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 good.
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 corner.
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 season.
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com