Danny Califf's opportunistic header off a Ben Zemanski freekick was the difference as Chivas USA clinched their first season sweep taking all nine points from the Portland Timbers in the season series. Chivas keeps the pace for the fifth and final playoff spot with four games in hand whilst the Timbers drop their fifth straight decision.
As some implied the contest did boil down to Danny Califf and Kris Boyd, only not in the way most would have expected. Califf scored his first goal of the season while Boyd had several chances especially in the first half that Chivas was lucky to exit the half on level ground.
The first half was a see-saw battle with each side generating opportunities though Chivas seemed much more content to parry the ball, Portland zoomed ahead with an aggressive counter-attack. Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe played the forward bit of an inverted midfield triangle (Jack Jewsbury stayed behind) which was so quick to distribute balls to Boyd in the center or Homegrown Timber Brent Richards or Franck Songo'o, a former Barcelona Youth Academy player.
Had Dan Kennedy not been up to his usual heroics (clean sheet, six saves), I'm certain the Timbers would have scored several with ease. On defensive Raushan McKenzie was on the initial lineup sheet but was removed in favor of John Valencia. If this was a mistake or is McKenzie suffered an injury, we do not know but it was clear that Valenica did not play his strongest game. He had several passes picked off--one of which Valencia should be very thankful wasn't a goal--and was lucky to not have had a foul called on him outside the box when he flattened Chara. There was another Chara/Valencia collision in the first half that also nearly took out Dan Kennedy.
Songo'o was the player of the first half but was far less effective in the second half. I couldn't tell if this was the product of his body wearing down or an increase in physicality from the Chivas side. Songo'o twice took down Chivas players, drew a foul after sustaining a hit from a Miller Bolanos elbow and committed the yellow card that led to the freekick from which Califf scored from. With Songo'o off, Chara became the engine of the Portland attack. Chara continued to push valiantly until his hamstring gave way in the games final minutes.
Chivas' next match will be the rubber game of the Superclaisco between Chivas and the LA Galaxy on August 12th.