CARSON, Calif.--Chivas USA hosted Houston Dynamo in the return leg of an April 17th matchup in Houston. For Houston, Brian Ching began the match on Houston’s bench as he attempts to regain fitness following an injury on opening night. Houston began the game with a 4-3-3 formation, an unusual deviation from their traditional 4-4-2. Chivas USA meanwhile came out with the same formation as they did for Wednesday’s match versus New England, with Sacha Kljestan as the withdrawn forward.
A smashing start to the game as Brian Mullan launched a pass to Brad Davis, which he flicked over the head of Zach Thornton for a quick 0-1 lead in the 3rd minute.
Houston continued to pressure the Chivas USA midfield, which was so dominant versus the Revs, forcing the Goats to play the ball back rather than forward or laterally, which has allowed them to dominate possession in their previous three matches.
In the eighth minute, Brad Davis served a beautiful corner into the penalty area that found Adrian Serioux’s head for a quick 0-2 lead. Jonathan Bornstein, who was marking Serioux, was picked by a Dynamo player, leaving Serioux wide-open.
Chivas USA attempted to respond. The Goats composed their midfield and began to gain control of possession, but they struggled to effectively move the ball due to the Dynamo pressure. Houston held the ball well midway through the first half, prompting the Goats to commit several fouls as they feverishly attempted to respond to the 2-goal deficit.
In the 31st minute, Justin Braun fired a shot from the right side of the semi-circle, but Pat Onstad was in position to make easy work of the effort. In the 36th minute, Mariano Trujillo managed to beat Onstad, but was wide of the post.
As the first half progressed, Houston appeared to be more interested in protecting their two-goal lead, which allowed the Goats to inch their way into the Houston side of the pitch. Following the 3-0 victory in Houston, the Dynamo looked confident that they could keep the Goats off the scorer’s sheet.
In injury time, the Goats got a free kick from the left of Onstad’s goal, but Ben Zemanski missed a half chance that landed harmlessly in the goalkeeper’s hands.
At the half, Chivas USA’s Mariano Trujillo and Houston’s Mike Chabala were in the official’s book and tempers on both sides began to flare as each side engaged in rough tackling.
The lone substitution at the start of the half was for Chivas USA as Marcelo Saragosa came on for Gerson Mayen, as Martin Vasquez attempted to solidify the Chivas USA midfield.
Chivas USA pressed the attack early on as the referee allowed the players to continue their rough play. In the 50th minute, Kljestan sent a corner into the box that was narrowly saved by Onstad. In the 52nd minute, Jesus Padilla exited the game in favor of forward Chukwudi Chijindu, to partner with Justin Braun up front.
By the 55th minute, Houston was content to focus on counterattack opportunities as the Goats held possession at the edge of the Dynamo box, with Dominic Oduro left up top to look for any holes in the Chivas USA defense. Oduro’s work rate would factor in his exit as a cramp to his right leg ended his night early as Designated Player Luis Angel Landin entered the game in the 64th minute.
Chivas USA continued to press the attack, but two Jonathan Bornstein crosses could not find their intended targets. Though the Goats attacked the Houston goal, the Dynamo’s backline was very consistent in keeping the Goats out of their penalty area. The stylish Chivas USA attack was continually thwarted by expertly played defensive soccer.
In the 78th minute, a bit of controversy occurred in the Houston penalty area as it appeared that Adrian Serioux handled the ball, but the official instead awarded a free kick in favor of Houston.
In the 84th minute, Chivas USA, with all ten field players in the Houston half, got their best look of the game as Kljestan fired a rocket over the goal of Onstad.
The relentless Dynamo defense held on after 80 minutes to shut out the Goats for the second time in the young 2010 season. Brian Ching remained on the bench as Houston’s offense, led by Brad Davis, jumped on the Goats early on. The Goats, meanwhile, played hard for 90 minutes, only to find their old problems flare up again.
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