Categorized | Match Reports

Goats dominate, pull out win in 93rd minute

Posted on 31 August 2008 by Steve L. Hernandez

Chivas USA, playing a fluid, attacking style reminiscent of last year’s Western Conference Championship-winning squad, moved into playoff position after its come-from-behind victory over Toronto FC. Attiba Harris rolled in the game winner with 30 seconds to play in extra time.

The night began on an ominous note for the league’s northernmost side, as technical difficulties negated the playing of the Canadian National Anthem. The opening minutes of the match, similarly, foreshadowed a tough night for Toronto FC.

While not getting getting a clean shot off until the 9th minute of the match, Chivas began dominating the game from its early stages with its incisive passing game. Chivas first dangerous opportunity arose from a series of quick passes- Sacha Kljestan passed to Ante Razov at the top of the box, Razov turned and fed a streaking Francisco Mendoza in the box, but Toronto’s stellar keeper Greg Sutton beat Mendoza to the ball.  2 minutes later, Lawson Vaughn, returning as a starter to his right back spot, then fed a cross from the right wing onto the head of Attiba Harris, who headed the ball right to Sutton.

Kljestan then showed why he is one of America’s most sought-after young players.  The 23-year old, rumored to be sought by various European teams, took a pass in central midfield, flicked a perfect heel pass to Razov then immediately made an overlapping run. Razov quickly returned a pass to the on-rushing Kljestan at the top of the box.  Kljestan, having drawn the defense, then fed a wide-open Harris on the right side of the box. Harris, however, shot the ball directly at the ready Sutton.

But two minutes later, Kljestan again wowed the Chivas faithful at the Home Depot Center.  Razov again fed Kljestan, this time on the left wing. Kljestan received the ball and passed to himself around Toronto’s defender and fed an open Alecko Eskandarian, who was unable to get a shot off before Toronto’s defense knocked the ball away.

Toronto, playing mostly to counterattack throughout the night, was rewarded by its captain in the 19th minute. Rohan Ricketts won a 50-50 ball at midfield, took a return pass from a teammate, and passed long to Toronto Captain Jim Brennan on the right wing. Brennan, alone on Chivas keeper Zach Thornton, did not waste his opportunity, settling the bouncing ball and ripping his left-footed shot into the back of the net past a sliding Thornton. “It was a difficult moment,” offered Chivas Coach Preki “we make one mistake and we get punished.”

Chivas did not stay down long. About a minute after Toronto scored, Razov made a fantastic pass through a flat-footed Toronto defense to Eskandarian who shot low, between the legs of Sutton, into the goal. “Their backs were kinda flat all game long, so the spots were always open to get behind them,” said Eskandarian.  “I don’t know how [Razov] got the ball, but I found myself and just yelled and he kinda hit a blind ball, a perfect ball, right in stride, the keeper came out, and I just slotted it with my right foot.”

Toronto’s Chad Barrett, playing against Chivas for the first time since June, when he was a member of the Chicago Fire and missed two wide-open opportunities to score, again had a rough night in the Home Depot Center. In the 23rd minute, the Chivas defense gifted Barrett a golden opportunity to score when a miscommunication led to his being one-on-one with Thornton. Barrett, a local product of UCLA, replayed his poor performance from June and wasted his opportunity by hitting his ball wide right into the side of the goal.

Chivas continued dominating possession for the remainder of the half. In the 24th minute, Kljestan made another great pass into space for the dangerous Eskandarian, who hit his shot wide left. Sutton again came up large for Toronto in the 38th minute, when he denied Eskandarian, who had gotten behind Toronto’s defense.

The second half began as the first ended, with Eskandarian having another chance to score from inside the box, but he hit his turning shot just wide of goal. A few minutes later, Eskandarian created another chance for Chivas when he fed Razov near the top of the penalty area and Razov curled a left-footed shot just over the top-left corner of Toronto’s goal.

Toronto’s best opportunities of the 2nd half came minutes apart. First, Barrett was again unable to convert a one-on-one opportunity against Thornton in the 61st minute. Barrett received a long pass behind the Chivas defense and streaked toward the oncoming Thornton. This time, he hit the ball toward goal, but his shot was directly at Thornton, who had come out to the top of the box and deflected the shot away. A few minutes later, former Chivas USA player Amado Guevara took the ensuing corner and curled his pass onto the head of Tyrone Marshall, who sliced his header wide of the open net.

Chivas continued peppering Sutton’s area with crosses and shots over the course of the next 30 minutes, with Razov and substitues Roberto Nurse and Justin Braun all missing great opportunities on goal. Though apparently frustrated by their inability to seal the deal yet again, Chivas continued pressing the game into extra time.  Chivas had a multitude of opportunities in the area during injury time, with Harris and Jorge Flores both making dangerous crosses in the area and Kljestan having a shot blocked by Sutton from close range.  “It was one of those crazy games where we thought it was never coming,” said Preki, “but it finally came in the last minutes of the game.”

The “it” Preki referred to was the game winner. With about 30 seconds remaining of the 4 minutes of extra time allotted by the referree, Kljestan took a clever corner from the left side, hitting a low ball into the box. Chivas defender Bobby Burling dummied, allowing the ball to go between his legs and Harris side-footed a slow, curling ball to Sutton. Sutton, perhaps suprised by Kljestan’s low corner, was unable to get down on the ball and the ball squirted through his hands and rolled over the goaline.

“I was ecstatic, it felt good, it feels really good right now knowing we got three points under our belt…it’s exciting, I couldn’t believe it went in, but I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” said a smiling Kljestan.

Toronto Coach John Carver, not one to mince words, was upset with the result, but more upset with the way his team played, “That was disastrous. For me, that’s the worst we’ve played since I’ve been here.”

Chivas next prepares for a week of rematches, as it plays Panama’s Tauro FC in the return leg of the OONCACAF Champion’s league matchup on Tuesday, and then flies to Canada to play Toronto at BMO Field on Saturday.

Chivas Kljestan and Thomas called to national teams
Kljestan departs for training with the U.S. National team after Tuesday’s matchup with Tauro and will not be available for Saturday’s rematch with Toronto . . . Shavar Thomas has been called to play with the Jamaican National team and will not be available for either of Chivas games this week.

{democracy:19}

Match Facts

Toronto FC (7-10-5) vs. Chivas USA (7-9-6)
August 30, 2008 — The Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary:
TOR — Jim Brennan 1 (Rohan Ricketts 3) 19
CHV — Alecko Eskandarian 2 (Ante Razov 3) 20
CHV — Atiba Harris 3 (Sacha Kljestan 5) 94+
Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Julius James (Johann Smith 58), Jim Brennan, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Rohan Ricketts, Chad Barrett (Abdus Ibrahim 64), Carlos Ruiz,

Substitutes Not Used: Danny Dichio, Brian Edwards, Kevin Harmse, Jarrod Smith, Tyler Rosenlund

Chivas USA — Zach Thornton, Lawson Vaughn, Bobby Burling, Jim Curtin, Jonathan Bornstein, Atiba Harris, Sacha Kljestan, Paulo Nagamura, Francisco Mendoza (Jorge Flores 75), Alecko Eskandarian (Justin Braun 66), Ante Razov (Roberto Nurse 70),

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Ebert, Dan Kennedy, Daniel Paladini, Keith Savage

Chivas USA Toronto FC

Misconduct Summary:
CHV — Sacha Kljestan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 15
CHV — Paulo Nagamura (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70
TOR — Tyrone Marshall (caution; Reckless Tackle) 72
CHV — Lawson Vaughn (caution; Reckless Tackle) 79
CHV — Atiba Harris (caution; Reckless Tackle) 80
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Frank Anderson
4th official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of game: 1:54
Attendance: 12,561
Weather: Clear -and- 70 degrees

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