Chivas USA strengthened their playoff credentials with a timely win over D.C. United, earning a 2-0 scoreline on Saturday night.
United midfielder Ben Olsen was sent off in the 66th minute, compounding a miserable night for United in front of 24,175 at home. With the loss, United's slim chances of making the playoffs became even more slim, as they will likely need to pick up all dix points out of their last two games, in addition to receiving help from other sides.
With their victory, Chivas moved to 41 points from 26 games, and left themselves in prime position to secure their place in postseason action.
The game began awkwardly for United, who are accustomed to dominating possession and chances at home. Roles were reversed for the opening stages of the match, as Chivas enjoyed more of the possession, and used it to create some dangerous scoring chances.
United were to blame for some of the chances conceded early on. Several times, a lack of communication between the United back line gifted Chivas possession, but the Goats lacked the decisive final ball to make United pay for their mistakes.
Justin Braun had the first golden chance of the match, as a perfectly weighted throughball from Sacha Kljestan reached Braun in the box. From a tight angle Braun only managed to put his shot into the side netting, as Milos Kocic had the angles covered.
Braun had another decent opportunity minutes later, again courtesy of Kljestan. After making room for himself outside of the box, Kljestan sent a cross towards Braun at the back post. Braun beat Marc Burch to the header, but Kocic was able to deny Braun with his feet.
The ebb and flow of the match continued to favor Chivas, as United could not manage to carve out any genuine chances. Dejan Jakovic had an opportunity with a header from a Clyde Simms cross was looped easily into the awaiting hands of Zach Thornton.
Chivas then had a flurry of chances that led to the opening goal in the 32nd minute. Braun hit the crossbar with a left footed shot from distance, as Kocic looked to have been beaten.
Moments later, Kljestan fed a ball into the box for striker Maicon Santos. Santos held off a defender, before turning and taking a quick shot that hit the near post. The ball rebounded off the back of the diving Kocic, with the ball eventually bouncing back over the line, as Kocic was credited with an own goal.
The goal failed to spark United into action, as Chivas continued to control the pace of the game. In what seemed to be a desperate move to energize the team, United coach Tom Soehn brought on Jaime Moreno for Christian Gomez, as United's season seemed to be slipping away.
Santos had one final chance in the half, but his free kick from thirty yards out deflected off of a teammate, and went out for a goal kick.
United started off the second half brightly, as the addition of Fred at halftime seemed to re-energize the whole team. Lawson Vaughn nearly snuck in a cross at the near post before Thornton recovered, and then Quaranta just missed out on a header from a Fred cross.
Things fell apart from there for United, as they conceded a second goal to the Goats in the 53rd minute. Jonathan Bornstein took a free kick from midfield, which found Jesus Padilla in the box. The ball took a bounce of Burch and fell to Padilla, who was able to power his shot past Kocic from eight yards out, as Chivas went up 2-0.
Soehn took his last roll of the dice minutes later, as he brought on Luciano Emilio for Burch in attempt to change the fortunes of the team.
Disaster then struck in the 66th minute for United, as Ben Olsen was sent off with a straight red card. After being pushed to the ground by Yamith Cuesta, Olsen retaliated by kicking the ball into the back of Cuesta, which earned him a straight red from referee Kevin Stott. And with the disappearance of Olsen, United's chances of making the playoffs seemed to disappear as well.
Even though United had to play down, they had to push forward for a chance to earn something from the match, which left them vulnerable to the counter attack. However, Chivas were not too worried about scoring another goal, and rarely asked any questions out of Kocic.
D.C. finally had a couple of decent chances in the final ten minutes, but they failed to make their chances count. Rookie Chris Pontius made a counter attack of his own, making his way into the Chivas half from deep in his own side. He then fed the ball out wide for Quaranta, but the winger's shot from outside the box was well over the bar.
Quaranta then fed Emilio in the box in the 82nd minute. Emilio made a nice turn on the ball, giving him an opening that allowed him the opportunity to get a shot off. But his left footed effort from eight yards out was well off, frustrating fans and teammates alike.
Quaranta had one final chance for United, but his well-driven shot bounced just wide of the post. Chivas had on the other end a couple of counter attacking options, but after three minutes of stoppage time, the game ended in a 2-0 victory for Chivas.
Steven Streff, Goal.com
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