By KAYLA KNAPP
CARSON, Calif.—When Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser brought on second-half substitutes Juan Pablo Angel and Jorge Villafana with 13 minutes left in Wednesday's match against the Montreal Impact, they were brought on to provide a spark.
The duo not only brought a spark, they combined for the game-winning goal as Villafana sent in a cross that Angel headed home the winner just five minutes after coming on to give Chivas USA a 2-1 victory for their second victory at Home Depot Center this season.
The victory helped the Goats bounce back from Saturday’s crushing 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. On Wednesday against Montreal, Chivas USA put together one of their best performances of the season.
“I’m very pleased with the way that we finished the game and I thought we finished the game stronger than we have several times this year,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said after the match. “Overall, it’s certainly a performance that we feel very good about.”
The win helped Chivas USA leapfrog the Los Angeles Galaxy in the West standings, and move within a point of the Colorado Rapids for fifth place in the Western Conference.
With just one win on the road, Montreal has clearly struggled to get results away from their home turf. Wednesday’s game seemed like a repeat of many the Impact have played in 2012.
“I felt like that game was under control…and it was going to be a tie, or a win down the stretch,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “This is what we’re still trying to learn, because we’ve had a lot of games that look like that this year. We feel like we were good enough on the day to get a result, and we wind up somehow giving it away.”
The game started out with Chivas having most of the possession and chances on goal, with their offensive efforts paying off in the 14th minute. Cesar Romero swung the ball into the box on a corner
kick, and Juan Agudelo tapped it on frame. Alejandro Moreno got the final touch on the ball to put it in the back of the net, giving the Rojiblancos a 1-0 lead early in the match.
While Chivas looked more dangerous for the first 30 minutes, the Impact made their presence known later in the half. Dan Kennedy was forced to make a huge save in the 39th minute, followed by another good stop just 30 seconds later, maintaining the Rojiblancos lead.
But it wouldn’t last long, as Montreal equalized just a few minutes later. Davy Arnaud received the ball on the right flank, played a pass across the box to Felipe, who redirected it past Kennedy. In the 42nd minute, the Impact were level with Chivas, 1-1.
Montreal closed out the second half strong, except for strike from Ben Zemanski in the 44th minute from just outside the 18 yard box, but he was again denied by Ricketts.
Montreal came out of the locker room after the halftime break with a fire lit under them, and attacked Chivas for the opening 15 minutes of the second half. But they just couldn’t find the
final touch to get the go ahead goal.
Chivas had their first solid chance in the second half during the 58th minute, when the
Rojiblancos strung together a set of passes, ending with Agudelo splitting two Montreal defenders and finding himself alone in the box. The final ball was just a hair too far in front of him, but the combination of passes in the attacking third was a positive sign for Chivas. The more Chivas attacked, the more a goal felt imminent.
The Rojiblancos regained their lead just four minutes after bringing on substitutes in the 78th
minute. Jorge Villafana crossed the ball into the box to Juan Pablo Angel, who headed it home. It was 2-1 in favor of Chivas with less than 10 minutes to go in the game.
The second goal seemed to give the home side a boost of confidence, as Chivas pushed forward hard, searching for the dagger in the closing minutes.
Montreal had two solid opportunities to tie it up in the dying minutes, when Sanna Nyassi ripped a shot on frame, but Kennedy saved it with ease. In stoppage time, the Impact were awarded a free kick just outside the 18, but the strike from Felipe went just over the bar. It was the last chance the Impact would get, with the final whistle blowing not long after.
This loss is especially difficult for Montreal, as they were coming off a 4-1 stomping of Seattle Sounders at the opening of the renovated Stade Saputo.
“We can’t win a game 4-1 against Seattle and then come here and lose a disappointing one,” Impact defender Jeb Brovsky said. “We’re going to have to learn how to get some momentum.”
The Impact will try to redeem themselves on Saturday, as they travel back home to take on the Houston Dynamo.
For Chivas, this performance is a huge boost coming into a tough weekend game.
“It’s massive, for many reasons,” Angel said after the match. “We needed to get a home win, we came off a very hard defeat from last Saturday and we needed to go to a very difficult place
like Dallas with a little bit of confidence.”
Chivas will look to build on the momentum from this win when they travel to play FC Dallas this weekend.