Chivas USA defeated the LA Galaxy 1-0 Saturday, their first victory over the Galaxy since 2007. Jose Correa converted a penalty in the 72nd minute after David Junior Lopes handled the ball in the box and was given a red card.
While it was not the most beautiful soccer ever played, the game was not marred by rash conduct that so often affects derby matches. Perhaps if Chivas even the rivalry over time, the emotions will come back into the match, but this was a terrific win for Chivas. For me the best image of the night was when new defender Danny Califf, obtained by Chivas just this week, leaped into Dan Kennedy's arms after the final whistle and the pair seemed to truly appreciate the result. After a difficult stretch to end his stint in Philadelphia, perhaps Califf has come home in more ways than one.
Let's discuss some of the talking points coming out of the match:
1. Youth movement in attack was effective Truth be told, this was a pretty evenly-played match. Chivas have to be proud of their performance, but the penalty was the knife edge upon which they got the win. Regardless, Chivas youthful attack was quite effective on the night. With Juan Pablo Angel playing as a sub and Alejandro Moreno playing in midfield, three young players carried the attack on the night. Miller Bolanos did well in bringing the ball up from the midfield into the final third and the shot he had in the first half that went off the post was the best chance of the half for both teams. New Goat Juan Agudelo stepped off a plane and into the starting lineup, and did well to progress the attack in his hour of work. His physicality and ability to get around defenders in tight space was very promising. And obviously Correa was effective. This was especially the case on the sequence leading up to the goal, as he had the shot that would have been a sure goal if Lopes hadn't blocked it with his arm. He also showed confidence in calling for the penalty kick, which was also necessary as the player who would likely be the regular PK taker, JPA, was not on the field. And Correa successfully converted the penalty twice, after the first was waved off for encroachment. It's his second goal in three appearances for Chivas, good news indeed. It looks like the young guns may be capable of big things moving forward.
2. Califf was immediately integral to the team We should probably thank Peter Nowak for sitting Califf so much this season, as he looked fresh considering he stepped off the plane about 48 hours earlier. He wasn't particularly vocal, but he didn't need to be, as the entire team put in a great defensive performance and he slotted in naturally at center back alongside Rauwshan McKenzie. Califf also showed aerial ability in fighting for possession in the middle of the field, and he tied Minda for the team lead in headers on the night with seven. And I think his celebration at the end of the night with Kennedy showed how excited he was to be in a new situation and how happy he was to see a win. As he noted after the match, it was his first win on the field in 2012, and so his relief was along the same lines as the rest of his new teammates, who were looking for their first home win of the season. All in all, it was a great night for the newest Goats.
3. Kennedy took care of business, again One good effect of this match is that Dan Kennedy was not particularly busy on the night. In part, the Galaxy attack wasn't potent, but credit to the players ahead of DK on the field who neutralized the threats before they came in on goal. But Kennedy came up big when he needed to, the biggest example coming in the 51st minute when he made a fantastic double save on shots from Pat Noonan and Kyle Nakazawa in quick succession. It was a great performance on both counts - Kennedy came up big again to preserve the three points, but he was not expected to stand on his head in order to get the team those points. It was a good sign that the team may be supporting Kennedy better.
Looking ahead: Chivas don't have much time to savor the win, as they are traveling to the East Coast to take on the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night. They'll be doing it without Agudelo, however, as he was selected to the U.S. Men's National Team today.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!