Chivas USA Punches Playoff Ticket With 2-0 Win Over Wizards

Within three minutes, both Justin Braun and Sacha Kljestan put the ball in the back of the net. The Kansas City Wizards failed to create any response as the Goats cruised to a playoff berth.
Chivas USA came into this game with every chance of making a real impact on the race to the Supporter’s Shield.  The Goats now sit atop the Western Conference with 44 points and a game in hand against perennial power Houston Dynamo and their local rivals LA Galaxy. 

KC played without veteran center back Jimmy Conrad, as he is away with the National Team, and it showed as Chivas exploited the hole in their defense. After this loss, Kansas City is not officially eliminated from the playoff hunt, but any chance of making the post-season requires them winning out and having every other result go their way.   

First Half 

The early going at the HDC saw Chivas control the possession with KC getting the occasional counter. The first dangerous build up came in the 15th minute as Josh Wolff played a long ball down off his chest to Kei Kamara.  Kamara feinted a shot and laid it off to Graham Zusi, but Yamith Cuesta dove in to stop the shot. 

The Wiz followed that up in the 18th minute as Cuesta sent a soft back pass to Zach Thornton. Zusi won the race and tried to play in Kamara, but Claudio Suarez intercepted and deflected the ball back to Zusi, who couldn’t keep his shot on goal. 

After ten minutes of KC control, Chivas reasserted their dominance.  Sacha Kljestan showed his passing ability in the 23rd minute as he played Maykel Galindo in on goal. Galindo took his shot from the top of the box, but Josh Hartman denied him the upper right corner with a fingertip save. 

The Goats continued to find space behind the KC defense, but it was the KC counterattack that created the best opportunities as Claudio Lopez nearly broke down the left wing and Kamara knocked a good chance well wide. 

Kljestan created another chance for Justin Braun in the 44th minute, but rather than playing the ball back across to a teammate, Braun curled his shot high of the far upper right of the goal. 

Second Half 

Preki decided to change things up in the second half as he brought on Jesse Marsch and Marian Trujillo for Claudio Suarez and Jesus Padilla, respectively, but it was KC that threatened as Davy Arnaud tried his luck from long range. Preki was clearly not happy, as he made his third substitution in the 50th minute replacing Michael Lahoud with Eduardo Lillingston. 

After ten minutes of play around the middle of the park by Chivas, a turnover led to a wonderful strike from Claudio Lopez. Lopez sent the ball out wide left to Davy Arnaud. The ball came back across to the Argentine twenty five yards out from goal. His first touch popped the ball straight up in the air and his ensuing volley curled over Zach Thornton, striking the cross bar and going out for a goal kick. Zach Thornton landed awkwardly on his back, but stayed in the game. 

Chivas nearly struck in the 65th minute after hard work from Maykel Galindo on the right wing ended with Kljestan firing a strong shot for the bottom right of the goal. Kljestan floated in from the left wing and it took every inch of Kevin Hartman to keep his shot out. 

Chivas continued to pile on the pressure and it finally paid off in the 71st minute. Kljestan earned a free kick and fired it towards the far upper corner. Hartman did all he could to knock the ball down, but Yamith Cuesta was on hand to collect the ball and pass it back into the six yard box where Justin Braun hammered the ball into the top of the net over the helpless Hartman. 

It only took Sacha Kljestan three minutes to double the Goats’ lead.  Carey Talley played a long ball down the right wing to Eduard Lillingston. Lillingston collected and played the ball back to Kljestan, who was trailing the play. Kljestan feinted a shot, and cut through the KC defense, before sliding the ball through Kevin Hartman’s legs. 

Thornton’s back problems and Preki’s dramatic substitutions might have had an effect on the game, but the hard working Wizards only managed one goal scoring opportunity and never even tested the clearly injured goalkeeper in the last fifteen minutes. That chance came in the 88th minute as Kei Kamara ran onto a ball over the top. He played the ball across the box where substitute Zoltan Hercegfalvi played a nice dummy, leaving it to fellow substitute Chance Myers.  However, Myers only tested the side netting.

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