Chivas USA 2 - Colorado Rapids 0

Two teams heading in different directions squared off on Saturday as the Colorado Rapids traveled to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA.

The Rapids came to town for the final leg of an unsuccessful three-game road trip, having dropped previous decisions at Toronto and Houston, both by a 2-1 score.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chivas USA was riding a two-game winning streak, dispatching Chicago and FC Dallas without allowing a goal as they have climbed up the Western Conference table.

Both clubs had missed opportunities in the first half. Chivas USA looked like the better club, but couldn’t get anything past Rapids ‘keeper Bouna Coundoul. The Goats’ defense was also working hard, holding Colorado without a shot on goal through the first half-hour.

In the 32nd minute, a mental breakdown by Chivas allowed Herculez Gomez to break in behind the defense. Alex Zotinca’s failed clearance gave Herculez enough space to break in on Brad Guzan. But El Guzano was up to the task, tipping the Gomez volley over the net.

Calling it the most difficult save he made on the night, Guzan said: “We kind of got unlucky in a couple of bounces and Herculez is free and takes a shot like 10 yards away from me. You have to be ready through 90 minutes, you have to be mentally focused and that’s an area that I have definitely improved in the last three years.”

Just after halftime, Chivas would finally break through – with a little help from the Colorado defense. In the 49th minute, Sacha Kljestan’s cross from the right side skipped past Maykel Galindo and Panchita Mendoza in the box, but ricocheted off Terry Cooke and past Coundoul, giving Chivas USA an unlikely goal and the lead.

From then on, Chivas USA used the speed of Galindo and Mendoza to run at a tired Colorado defense. In the 52nd minute, Paulo Nagamura sprung Galindo into open space. As Brandon Prideaux and Ugo Ihemelu gave chase, Galindo unleashed a low, hard shot. Coundoul had to sprawl out to make a save on the Cuban’s effort, keeping Colorado in the game.

In the 63rd minute, Galindo had another one-on-one opportunity against Coundoul. After receiving a pass from midfield by Jesse Marsch, Galindo raced past the Rapids defense and slotted a left-footed effort into the back of the net, giving Chivas USA all they would need.

“The own goal changed the momentum. We needed to open up and send more people forward,” declared Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo.

With the game winding down Guzan was forced to make two key saves. Roberto Brown tried to get one back for Colorado with a low shot in the 86th minute. It was enough to force a save, but Guzan was up to the task, diving to his left to knock the ball away.

Colorado had one last gasp in the 90th minute. Off a Jose Cancela free kick, Brandon Prideaux’s header to the far post looked certain to cut the deficit in half, if not for a tremendous effort from Guzan. His fourth save of the match preserved a third-straight clean sheet and earned him praise from the coach.

“Sometimes, you need a goalkeeper like him to keep you in the game and tonight he did a great job. That’s why he is an international goalkeeper,” said Preki.

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