CARSON -- Chivas USA has been stung four times this year by late goals that cost it a win or a draw, so there was great enjoyment derived Wednesday night from getting a a winner near the finish.
Juan Pablo Angel's looping, off-balance header from Jorge Villafaña's cross in the 82nd minute delivered to the Goats a 2-1 victory over expansion Montreal, prodding them to within one point of fifth place following a performance that did much to alleviate the disappointment of last weekend's loss to Real Salt Lake.
Alejandro Moreno also scored, after Juan Agudelo connected with Cesar Romero's corner kick in the 14th minute, and Chivas (5-7-3) grabbed points for the fifth time in their last six Major League Soccer encounters.
“Now that feels a little better, doesn't it,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who had to deal with a few scrambles in his box -- one immediately after Angel's goal in heavy smoke from a supporters group's celebrations behind his net -- but not a whole lot else. “That was good. Really, that game was there for the taking, and we've talked all week just about winning, and we found a way to win tonight.
“Just a class finish by Juan. That's what he is who he is: goals like that.”
The Goats were more aggressive in the final third -- their primary focus as the season nears its midpoint -- and got more from its wide play, even with lead wingers Ryan Smith out because of a concussion and Laurent Courtois on the bench.
“We've been trying to emphasize with the wide players that we need to get the ball in the box more, because at the end of the day that's where you score goals,” said Angel, who netted just his third goal of the season and his 71st in 5 1/2 MLS seasons. “And today we have a great cross by Cesar out of a corner kick and we score, and then another cross, another goal.
“I think today was a game where we probably crossed the ball more than we ever have. At the end of that day, that's what we have to do, and we have to do it consistently.”
Montreal (4-8-3) was just as good as the Goats, for the most part. Not as dangerous, perhaps, but deserving of a point after Felipe Martins beat an otherwise excellent Ben Zemanski to finish Davy Arnaud's serve just before halftime.
That answered Chivas' goal, which went to Moreno after Agudelo raced past Zarek Valentin to volley Romero's corner kick off the Goats' captain, who was squared up with a defender in the goalmouth.
“For me, it's a game that we 100 percent shouldn't lose,” said Montreal coach Jesse Marsch, the former Chivas USA captain. “We made critical mistakes. We’ve talked about dealing with set pieces and dealing with crosses, and that’s what hurt us. ... I thought we had that under control, and it was going to be a tie or a win down the stretch. This is what we’re still trying to learn, because we’ve had a lot of games that look like this this year. We feel like we were good enough on the day to get a result, and we wind up somehow giving it away.”
Angel and Villafaña came off the bench just five minutes before they hooked up, and the instruction was simple: Get some crosses in, get some shots on goal.
It worked to perfection. The ball was switched from the right flank to the left, and Villafaña was left one-on-one with Valentin, Chivas' top draft choice last year. He faked a cross, then took the ball deeper toward the end line, getting the ball past Valentin and toward the box.
Angel leapt for it, had to reach backward and somehow got it on target. Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, slowed by a leg injury suffered while on World Cup qualifying duty for Jamaica, wasn't mobile enough to get to the ball.
“I was going backward,” Angel said. “I managed to get a touch on the defender, and when I saw it, I couldn't get any power, so I tried to get it as far as I could, and fortunately for us it was the right spot.”
Villafaña has been working on crossing -- “Every day after practice, I just stay and take 50 crosses” -- and swung it in “and hoped someone was there, and Juan Pablo was there.”
Does he make that play a year ago. “I don't think so.”
Marsch said it was “one that shouldn't have been a goal, in my mind. I think it should have been saved, flat out.”
Valentin took the blame on both goals.
“Just disappointed, mainly in myself,” he said. “I feel like I gifted them two goals. I say that at the end of the day, it comes down to making plays, and I did not make plays today. It won’t happen again, but the first goal was my man, and the second goal I shouldn’t have let the cross in.
“I know [Villafaña] well enough to know what he was going to do, but just didn’t make a play. So those rest on my back, and I’ll take credit for them.”
Chivas coach Robin Fraser was pleased with the effort, with the intensity, and with how his team defended in the second half, especially as they closed out the victory.
“We saw tons of work, we saw intelligent work, we saw good decisions with the ball, which are things that you have to do,” he said. “We talked about execution on Saturday night, and I thought how we executed in the last 10 minutes of the game or so were definitely a step forward for us. I thought our decisions on the ball were good, our work rate was not to be questioned, and I was very proud with the way that we finished the [game].”
WORTH NOTING: The Goats did not get their fifth win last year until their 18th game, on July 6. ... Zemanski forced two leaping Ricketts saves with shots from distance in the first half. The first was tipped over the crossbar in the 29th minute and the second parried past the left post in the 44th. ... The crowd, announced as 10,376, was the second-smallest of the year for Chivas. The March 17 game against Vancouver drew 7,723. ... Valentin went the full 90 at right back for Montreal, and former Goats forward Justin Braun came on 20 minutes into the second half. ... Chivas dropped to seventh in the standings when the Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake, 3-2, then climbed back to sixth with its win. Fifth-place Colorado (6-8-1) let a late lead slip away in a 2-1 loss to San Jose and lead Chivas by a point and L.A. by two points. ... The Goats travel Friday to Texas, where they have a game Saturday against FC Dallas, which has an 11-game winless streak, all competitions.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Chivas USA 2, Montreal Impact 1
C -- Alejandro Moreno (Juan Agudelo, Cesar Romero) 14
M -- Felipe Martins (Davy Arnaud) 42
C -- Juan Pablo Angel (Jorge Villafaña) 82
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy; James Riley, Danny Califf, Rauwshan McKenzie, Ante Jazic; Ben Zemanski, Oswaldo Minda, Alejandro Moreno (Peter Vagenas, 86), Paolo Cardozo (Juan Pablo Angel, 77); Juan Agudelo, Cesar Romero (Jorge Villafaña, 77). Unused subs: Laurent Courtois, Blair Gavin, Scott Gordon, Tim Melia.
Montreal Impact: Donovan Ricketts; Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas, Nelson Rivas, Jeb Brovsky; Patrice Bernier (Justin Braun, 65), Collen Warner; Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp (Lamar Neagle, 81); Andrew Wenger (Sanna Nyassi, 73). Unused subs: Evan Bush, Karl Ouimette, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Tyson Wahl.
Yellow cards: Romero 16, Arnaud 55, Agudelo 91+.
Referee: Allen Chapman. Att.: 10,376.
Records: Chivas USA 5-7-3, 18 points; Montreal 4-8-3, 15 points.