Los Angeles Soccer: Dwayne De Rosario

Beckham, Donovan make All-Star list

July, 8, 2012

David Beckham and Landon Donovan won the fans' vote for Major League Soccer's All-Star First XI, the first step in selecting the team that will take on European champion Chelsea later this month in Chester, Pa.

MLS on Sunday announced the first 11 players, selected in a 4-4-2 formation, and the list includes New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry, San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski and reigning league MVP Dwayne De Rosario from D.C. United.

Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy lost out to Sporting Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen for the First XI goalkeeper slot but was among seven players MLS cited as being “close to the leading vote-getters at their positions.”

The First XI is not the starting lineup, merely the first 11 players chosen for the team. Commissioner Don Garber has two selections and D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, who will guide the MLS side in the July 25 match, will fill out the remainder of the 18-man game roster, with the announcement of their picks scheduled for next Sunday. Olsen will determine his starters from the 18.

Fourteen additional players will be announced July 25 as all-stars, per the MLS Players Union's Collective Bargaining Agreement with the league, but none will be eligible to play.

Donovan is a 12-time All-Star selection, and Beckham is making his third appearance on the list. Beckham's availability is uncertain; he might be in London for the Olympics, which begin July 25.

Sporting Kansas City placed three players on the First XI, with defender Aurelien Collin and midfielder Graham Zusi joining Nielsen. Former Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce is the second Red Bull on the list, and San Jose also has a second player, defender Steven Beitashour.

Here is the First XI:

Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City), Denmark, second All-Star appearance

Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), U.S., first
Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), France, first
Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), U.S., first
Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls), U.S., first

David Beckham (Galaxy), England, third
Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United, Canada, seventh
Landon Donovan (Galaxy), U.S., 12th
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), U.S., first

Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), France, second
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), U.S., second

CARSON -- Rauwshan McKenzie has patiently awaited his chance, and he's willing to wait a little longer, if need be.

The 25-year-old center back, Chivas USA's newest signing, mostly has sat and watched through his first four Major League Soccer seasons, and a fine showing in the Goats' preseason camp the past month or so probably isn't going to give him a regular starting gig this year either.

But it's going to give him the opportunity to play ample minutes, and with that, who knows?

“I think if you look at his career, if he may have landed in some other places, maybe it would have been a little different, because he does have a lot of ability ...,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said following training Monday at Home Depot Center. “I think he's definitely got the ability to be a good defender in MLS, and we're glad we have the opportunity to have him.”

McKenzie was a raw apprentice in his first two seasons, with Kansas City, where Jimmy Conrad was the leader in the back. He spent the past two years as cover for Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, the best center-back tandem in MLS.

All told, he's played in just 11 league games, 20 first-team competitive matches and 21 reserve-league games. And he figures to back up Heath Pearce and Colombian newcomer John Alexander Valencia in central defense this year.

“Those guys are more experienced than I am,” said McKenzie, who put pen to paper Friday afternoon. “So I just try to learn from them every day in practice. I've obviously got to keep working hard and hope when the opportunity comes that I'm ready to go.”

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MLS CUP: Galaxy's title-game history

November, 20, 2011

strong>D.C. United 3, Galaxy 2 (OT)
L.A. takes a 2-0 lead into the final 10 minutes, watches it disappear, then loses to an Eddie Pope header four minutes into sudden-death overtime. In a Nor'easter. Without captain Dan Calichman, suspended for playoff yellow cards.
D.C. United 2, Galaxy 0
Bad fortune all around. Top defender Robin Fraser goes down because of a shoulder injury in the opening minutes, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman whiffs on a back pass to gift D.C. a second goal. And that was it.
San Jose Earthquakes 2, Galaxy 1 (OT)
Mexican star Luis Hernandez provides an early lead, but Landon Donovan is a 19-year-old star for San Jose, not L.A., and his first MLS Cup strike pulls the Quakes even before halftime. Dwayne De Rosario comes off the bench to tally the overtime winner.
Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 0 (OT)
The third trip to Foxborough brings success, finally! Sigi Schmid delivered the first MLS Cup crown to the Galaxy in front of an event-record 61,316, with Carlos Ruiz's strike 23 minutes into overtime -- just moments after Winston Griffiths hit the crossbar from distance for New England -- starting the celebration.
  • 2005/FRISCO, TEXAS
Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 0 (OT)
The Galaxy was the bottom seed for the playoffs, but they went on a run after stunning San Jose in the first round and conquered the Revs again. Guatemalan forward Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez -- scoring his first goal on his 62nd shot of the season, worst ratio in MLS history -- was the hero, knocking in a cleared corner kick 17 minutes into overtime.
  • 2009/SEATTLE
Real Salt Lake 1, Galaxy 1 (OT)
(RSL wins on penalties, 5-4)

Injuries dogged the Galaxy, with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defender Omar Gonzalez forced to the sidelines in the second half, and a first-half lead through Mike Magee disappeared in the 64th minute, courtesy of Robbie Findley. Nick Rimando was the difference in the shootout, making two saves to give bottom seed RSL an unexpected title.

MLS CUP: Dynamo's title-game history

November, 20, 2011
  • 2006/FRISCO, TEXAS
Houston Dynamo 1, New England Revolution 1 (OT)
(Dynamo win on penalties, 4-3)

The first 90 minutes? Blah. Overtime? Electrifying! With “golden goal” dead, Taylor Twellman's strike 23 minutes into overtime did not give the Revs the victory, and Brian Ching's header 71 seconds later sent the game to the penalty spot. Twellman and Ching converted in the shootout, which went to Houston when Jay Heaps -- hired last week as New England's head coach -- was saved by Pat Onstad.
Houston Dynamo 2, New England Revolution 1
The Dynamo made it 2 for 2 after the move from San Jose (and 4 for 7, including the Earthquakes' titles) behind Dwayne De Rosario, who fed Joseph Ngwenya's 61st-minute equalizer and scored the 74th-minute winner. The Revs hit Bills/Vikings territory with their fourth MLS Cup loss, all in overtime or on PKs.

GALAXY: Beckham sits out again

November, 18, 2011

CARSON -- David Beckham missed Galaxy training again Friday, still suffering, according to coach Bruce Arena, from that pesky “cold” -- but talk that it's really a hamstring injury won't go away.

Arena used the “cold” excuse when he talked for the TV cameras following L.A.'s session at Home Depot Center, noting that he he doesn't “think David needs to train” and that “believe me, David will play on Sunday” in the MLS Cup final against Houston.

He was more succinct with the “print” media.

What's the latest on David?

“He'll be playing Sunday.”

We're hearing about a hamstring. Is there anything to that?

“He'll be playing Sunday.”

Is there anything to his hamstring?

“Yep, he does have hamstrings.”

Is it OK?

“Yep, he'll be playing Sunday.”

Beckham had been scheduled to speak Friday, but his media session was canceled.

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De Ro wins MLS's biggest prize

November, 18, 2011

CARSON -- Turns out David Beckham was wrong.

It's Dwayne De Rosario, not Brad Davis, who captured Major League Soccer's top award, and the voting wasn't close.

The D.C. United attacker, who won the Golden Boot as MLS's top scorer, was revealed as MVP early Friday morning, about 10 hours before a news conference scheduled to make the announcement.

Davis, whose leadership and distribution was pivotal in the Houston Dynamo's run to Sunday's MLS Cup final against the Galaxy, had widely been expected to win the honor. Beckham -- a contender who finished well below where he should have in the vote of media, players and club officials -- had said in passing nearly two weeks ago that Davis had “got the MVP, and rightly so, the service that he provides for their team.”

De Rosario almost universally was considered MLS's best player this year, lifting D.C. United into the playoff race after starting the year with Toronto FC and spending a short stint with New York. Is he the MVP? D.C. faded at the finish and missed the playoffs -- De Ro is the first MLS MVP from a club that didn't reach the postseason -- while others (Davis and Philadelphia's Sebastien Le Toux, perhaps most of all) pulled their clubs into favorable positions during the stretch drive.

De Ro's quality won out over context, and he won among all three voting blocs, massively among his peers, who gave him 26.38 percent of the vote and nobody else above 9 percent.

De Rosario weighted score was 72.72, and he was followed by Davis (43.66), FC Dallas' Brek Shea (27.59), Galaxy captain Landon Donovan (26.52) and Seattle's Mauro Rosales (19.30).

Shea drew more players' votes than did Davis, who was close to De Rosario (25.91 percent to 21.24 percent) in the media balloting. Donovan finished third in the club vote, tied with Davis for third in the player vote but received only 5.18 percent of media support.

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GALAXY: Dunivant in Best XI quartet

November, 10, 2011

David Beckham? No surprise. Landon Donovan? Been here before. Omar Gonzalez? The man is MLS's Defender of the Year.

Their inclusion in Major League Soccer's Best XI was more or less expected. That left back Todd Dunivant joined them on the league's postseason all-star team was the real reward for the Galaxy.

Dunivant, 30, has enjoyed his finest season as a pro, but his selection to the Best XI comes as a little bit of a surprise after he finished fifth in the Defender of the Year balloting. He leapt past the third- and fourth-place finishers in that vote -- Real Salt Lake's Nat Borchers and Philadelphia's Carlos Valdes -- to join Gonzalez and RSL's Jamison Olave on the all-league side. He's the only outside back on the XI.

Beckham, a first-time Best XI choice after an MVP-quality season, and Donovan, the Galaxy's leader, were expected to make the side, although Donovan's lack of late-season production could have cost him in a deeper than normal field of candidates.

Gonzalez, who was a Best XI choice last year, also was a slam-dunk pick.

Here's the full XI:

Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders):
The former U.S. national team star wrapped a legendary campaign by leading Seattle to the second-best record in the league.

Todd Dunivant (Galaxy):
L.A.'s left back is rewarded for a marvelous campaign in which he established himself as MLS's best outside back.

Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy): The MLS Defender of the Year had a mammoth campaign, taking a huge stride forward to make the Best XI in back-to-back years.

Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake): The big Colombian is MLS's most physically dominant backliner, blending athleticism and guile in an explosive package.

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AWARDS: Beckham can win but not MVP

November, 7, 2011
There's David Beckham's name on the list of award finalists that Major League Soccer just released, only it's not with the players up for the biggest honor.

The Galaxy midfielder, the club's best hope for the MVP award, is a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year. D.C. United's Charlie Davies and Chicago's Dominic Oduro are the other finalists. Davies, who returned from a deadly car crash that ended his 2010 World Cup hopes to restart his career in MLS, is heavily favored.

The three MVP possibilities are Houston's Brad Davis, D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario and FC Dallas' Brek Shea. Beckham mentioned after L.A.'s Western Conference final victory Sunday night over Real Salt Lake that Davis has won the honor, although no confirmation will be coming from the league, at least not until Nov. 18.

Omar Gonzalez is up for Defender of the Year, along with Real Salt Lake's Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers -- Olave won among the same trio last year -- and Bruce Arena joins Seattle's Sigi Schmid (Torrance/Bishop Montgomery HS and UCLA) and Sporting Kansas City's Peter Vermes among Coach of the Year finalists.

Chivas USA is a finalist for the Team Fair Play honor, UCLA product Kevin Hartman (Palos Verdes/Peninsula HS) is up for Goalkeeper of the Year, and former Cal State Fullerton midfielder Michael Farfan (Wildomar) is a Rookie of the Year finalist. The best-referee trio includes Chino's Kevin Stott.

The top-rookie award, expected to go to K.C. forward C.J. Sapong, will be announced Tuesday, along with the Fair Play awards. Defender of the Year is due Wednesday, with announcements following for the Best XI (Thursday). Other awards will be coming next week.

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MLS: K.C. wins East, RSL 3rd in West

October, 22, 2011

HOUSTON -- Sporting Kansas City won the Eastern Conference title and Real Salt Lake claimed third place in the West -- and a berth in the main playoff bracket -- on the penultimate day of Major League Soccer's regular season.

Matt Besler's goal nine minutes into the second half sent K.C. (13-9-12) to a 1-0 victory at D.C. United and nailed down the top spot in East, with Philadelphia (11-8-15) also securing a top-three finish when Columbus (13-13-8) lost at Chicago.

Real Salt Lake (15-11-8) finished third in the Western Conference despite a 1-1 draw against Portland and will meet Seattle in a home-and-home first-round series. FC Dallas, playing later, would have vaulted past the Utahns with a victory at San Jose, but the Earthquakes -- with Chris Wondolowski scoring his 16th goal to tie D.C.'s Dwayne De Rosario for the top spot in the league -- romped to a 4-2 victory.

That gives FC Dallas (15-12-7) the top seed among wild cards, and defending MLS Cup champion Colorado (12-9-13) is the No. 2 wild-card team after a 2-1 triumph at Vancouver.

Only one game remains in the regular season: The Galaxy plays Sunday at Houston. The Dynamo (11-9-13) would finish second in the East with a victory, with Philly third and Columbus and New York (10-8-16) taking the Nos. 3 and 4 wild-card berths. A draw would leave Philadelphia in second, Columbus third, and Houston ahead of New York for the No. 3 wild-card slot. If the Galaxy wins, New York remains in front of Houston.

Seattle-RSL is the only concrete postseason matchup. The Galaxy's first-round playoff opponent will be the No. 2, 3 or 4 wild-card team. Wild-card games are Wednesday and Thursday, and first-round series begin next weekend.

Here's what the postseason race looks like:

In the playoffs:
1. *W1-Galaxy 64 points (ceiling 70)
2. *W2-Seattle 63 (63)
3. *W3-Real Salt Lake 53 (53)
4. *WC1-FC Dallas 52 (52)
5. *E1-Sporting Kansas City 51 (51)
6. E2-Philadelphia 48 (48)
7. E3-Columbus 47 (47)
8. *WC2-Colorado 49 (49)
9. WC3-New York 46 (46)
10. WC4-Houston 46 (49)

11. Portland 42 (42)
12. Chicago 43 (43)
13. D.C. United 39 (39)
14. San Jose 38 (38)
15. Chivas USA 36 (36)
16. Toronto FC 33 (33)
17. Vancouver 29 (29)
18. New England 28 (28)

W -- Western Conference; E -- Eastern Conference; WC -- Wild card; * -- clinched position

MLS Power Rankings: MVP candidates

October, 11, 2011
Depending on which list you gander at, there appears to be at least 15, perhaps a few more, candidates for Major League Soccer's MVP award. OK, whatever.

It's then most wide-open race in league history, but the length of your list could depend on where you stand on Philadelphia's Sebastien Le Toux (struggled half the season, but has been tearing it up the past six weeks or so) or Seattle's Fredy Montero (scoring consistently, but overshadowed by teammates) or Chicago's Dominic Oduro (a dozen goals, but how many has he missed?) or even the Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez (a beast on the league's best defender, but he's, er, a defender).

Some brief thoughts on the true contenders, listed alphabetically:

Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle): MLS's best defensive midfielder makes Seattle go, but Montero and Mauro Rosales figure to siphon votes away -- Rosales with very good reason.

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): RSL's season turned rocky after Javier Morales' injury, and the Utahns' captain and midfield leader took the club on his shoulders.

David Beckham (Galaxy): MLS's biggest name has been fantastic in the final year of his five-year contract, providing service opposing teams can only envy. His 15 assists lead the league.

Brad Davis (Houston): The league's best left-winger has been this season's most effective creative player.

Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United): Double-digit goals (14) and assists (12) and could prod D.C. to the playoffs following a three-year absence, but he was unloaded earlier this year by Toronto FC and New York.

Landon Donovan (Galaxy): Everyone agrees Donovan is MLS's premier talent, and if this hasn't been his best season, it's been very good, and his influence on L.A.'s success -- especially his work off the field -- has been significant.

Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy): L.A. is the best team in MLS because of its defense. The third-year center back is enjoying a monster campaign.

Thierry Henry (New York): Is there a silkier player in MLS? No, and the French superstar has 14 goals despite nagging ailments all year. If New York's campaign hadn't been such a disappointment, he'd have a real chance.

Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia): Not so great until the past two months, but he's been one of MLS's two best players -- with De Rosario -- down the stretch. If Philly can pull out an Eastern title, he'll get due consideration.

Mauro Rosales (Seattle): The shoo-in for MLS Newcomer of the Year has impressively engineered the Sounders' attack.

Brek Shea (FC Dallas): Lots of European interest in the tall winger, who might have run away with this award if not for the Hoops' nosedive near the finish.

Our vote? Give us a couple of weeks to think about it.

This week's rankings:

1. GALAXY (18-4-10, 64 points), Last week: 1
Week 30:
Remark: Only one game -- the Champions League group finale at Motagua -- matters before the playoffs begin
Team MVP: Three candidates, and we voted in this order: Beckham, Donovan, Gonzalez
Next: Sunday vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m. (ESPN and ESPN Deportes); Thursday, Oct. 20, in CONCACAF Champions League Group A game at Motagua (Honduras), 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (16-7-9, 57 points), Last week: 2
Week 30:
No Montero? No Rosales? Sounders fall out of Shield race with 2-0 home loss to Philadelphia
Remark: 57,000-plus expected for Saturday's home finale, Kasey Keller's final regular-season game
Team MVP: Newcomer Rosales, although Alonso will get votes, too
Next: Saturday vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel); Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League Group D game vs. Monterrey (Mexico), 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

3. PHILADELPHIA UNION (11-7-14, 47 points), Last week: 5
Week 30: Freddy Adu
, Brian Carroll tally as Union wins, 2-0, at Seattle
Remark: Philly's first West Coast win is a big one, sending it atop the Eastern Conference
Team MVP: Carlos Valdes' play in the back is worthy, but it's Le Toux's form that has rekindled the Union's Eastern title hopes
Next: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Thursday, Oct. 20, at New York, 5 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)

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CHIVAS USA: Draw at D.C. too little too late

September, 22, 2011
Chivas USA showed some character in rallying from a two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw Wednesday night at D.C. United, but it wasn't enough -- and it came too late.

Juan Pablo Angel's two goals, Dan Kennedy's stoppage-time penalty-kick save and the return ahead of schedule for defender Heath Pearce were huge positives for the Goats (7-12-11), who ended a four-game losing streak but extended their winless stretch to seven games.

Ties aren't good enough, not that it matters anymore. If Chivas loses or ties Saturday night at Home Depot Center against Toronto FC, which has won back-to-back games and is unbeaten in its last three, and Portland wins at New York, the Goats would be the first team eliminated from the playoff chase.

Only Vancouver has a lower points ceiling -- Chivas' is 41, the Whitecaps' 40 -- and it also could be eliminated Saturday night.

It's been a horrible stretch drive for a Goats team that was in the playoff zone, among the top 10 teams, just 6 weeks ago.

A quick look at Chivas' draw:

BEST PLAYER: It's Angel or Kennedy -- both were critical in Chivas' comeback.

Angel scored his third and fourth goals since joining the Goats last month (and his sixth and seventh of the season) and has hit the net in back-to-back games.

Kennedy strengthened his solid MLS Goalkeeper of the Year credentials with several nice stops, the most important PK save on Dwayne De Rosario to secure the tie.

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Juninho, RSL's Rimando make All-Star list

July, 25, 2011

Galaxy midfielder Juninho is a Major League Soccer All-Star. So is Montclair's Nick Rimando, the goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake. Don't bother looking for either Wednesday.

They were among a half-dozen players selected in a vote among their colleagues for the final slots on the official All-Star list, but none of them are on the game-day roster for the clash with Manchester United at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the MLS Players Union mandates 32 all-stars, proportioned by position to resemble a realistic roster, but Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will take only 21 players into Wednesday night's game, which will be televised on ESPN2 and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46). Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Backe was allowed a 22-man roster, but Landon Donovan pulled out Sunday with a calf strain, and the coach said Monday he would not replace the Galaxy captain on the roster.

Four others previously chosen for the game-day roster -- Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, New York defender Rafa Marquez, Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea -- pulled out previously with injuries or CONCACAF Champions League conflicts.

The others added to the list Monday were Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, Vancouver forward Eric Hassli and New York winger Joel Lindpere.

Juninho, a 22-year-old Brazilian in his second season on loan from Sao Paulo, has been pivotal in central midfield for the Galaxy, which have the league's best record (11-2-9) heading into the All-Star break.

Rimando (Montclair HS/UCLA), 32, is in the top tier of MLS goalkeepers -- arguably at the top of that tier -- and his exclusion from the game-day roster was one of Backe's more shocking decisions. Rimando hasn't spoken publicly about the snub, but RSL head coach Jason Kreis last week told The Salt Lake Tribune that his star netminder was “deeply hurt.”

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GOLD CUP: Day 7 recap

June, 11, 2011

Panama CelebratesMark Ralston/AFP/Getty ImagesDespite a second-half surge, the U.S. lost its first group-stage match in Gold Cup history when Panama beat the Americans 2-1 in Tampa, Fla.

A stunning result in Tampa left the U.S. uncertain of reaching the CONCACAF Gold Cup's knockout stage, although it would require an upset more shocking than Panama's 2-1 decision Saturday -- and that's just a start.

The Canaleros scored twice in the first half, the second on a penalty kick, then held on as the U.S. applied heavy pressure the final 45 minutes of the showdown for the Group C lead, halving the deficit through a Clarence Goodson header.

It was the first victory by Panama in nine meetings with the U.S., which had ended the Central Americans' runs in the previous three Gold Cups and had never lost during the group stage in the first 10 tournaments. The teams could meet again in the June 22 semifinals in Houston.

Panama clinched a quarterfinal berth with the victory, and the U.S. almost certainly will join them in the knockout rounds, but if four matches go the wrong way, the Yanks will be finished.

Three of those results -- El Salvador over Cuba in Group A, Guatemala over Grenada in Group B, and Canada tying or beating Panama -- are well within reason. The fourth: Winless Guadeloupe beating the U.S. in Tuesday's Group C finale in Kansas City.

Canada commands its Gold Cup destiny after a 1-0 decision over Guadeloupe on a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick.

A quick look at the seventh day of group play in the region's nations championship:

YANKS FALL: Second-year pro Tim Ream, thought to be the future at center back for the U.S., endured a first-half nightmare that probably cost the Americans a shot at the Group C title.

Ream lost track of Luis Tejada, who finished Armando Cooper's header from a superb Gabriel Gomez cross to provide Panama a 19th-minute advantage, and brought down Blas Perez in the box to set up Gomez's 36th-minute penalty kick.

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CHIVAS USA: Hat trick stuns Red Bulls

May, 15, 2011

Justin BraunAndy Marlin/Getty ImagesJustin Braun celebrates the second goal of his hat trick in Chivas' 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls.

Justin Braun, relegated to the sidelines following preseason injuries and indifferent form that followed, made a major statement Sunday evening as Chivas USA pulled off the biggest upset of the Major League Soccer campaign.

Only it wasn't much of an upset.

The Goats, whose aggressive possession game is quickly making a big impression across the league, set up a showdown with the Galaxy in next weekend's SuperClasico with a 3-2 thriller over New York in Harrison, N.J. They were the better side a lot of the game, dominating big swaths of action, then relying on yeoman's efforts in the back when the Red Bulls' immense class shined through.

Braun scored a hat trick, the first in club history -- each goal providing Chivas (3-3-3) a one-goal advantage -- to define a sensational, box-to-box performance that coach Robin Fraser called a “coming-out party” for the 24-year-old striker.

“Justin was tremendous,” said Fraser, who inserted Braun into his lineup for suspended forward Marcos Mondaini. “I thought all night long he was just a real presence on the attacking end of the field. He ran a lot of things down; he was obviously very efficient in front of the goal. I think for him it’s great. It’s good for him, for his confidence. …

“You have a performance like that, you certainly make a statement for yourself. ”

It's a statement for Chivas, too -- not only knocking off perhaps MLS's best side, and doing it at Red Bull Arena, but with an offensive explosion few could have imagined. New York (4-2-3), the Eastern Conference's leader, had conceded just three goals in its first eight games. Braun had three by the 56th minute.

“This is definitely huge for me,” Braun told ESPN Los Angeles after the game. “I've always wanted to score a hat trick in MLS. It's a big moment for me. I've been in a little slump mostly, so I was happy to get the first one. The other two were just gravy.”

The first, in the sixth minute, was a beauty, a blast from just above the box on the left to the far-post netting. He got the second in the 21st minute, toe-poking past Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul after Ante Jazic did great work to keep Heath Pearce's free kick alive. And the winner came in the 56th, a tap-in after Coundoul pushed Alejandro Moreno's blast off the left post and across the goalmouth.

They were the first three goals this season for Braun, who led Chivas with nine last year.

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CHIVAS USA: Options with Lahoud's return

May, 15, 2011
Third-year midfielder-turned-right back Michael Lahoud is back and raring to go after missing Chivas USA's past 3 1/2 games with a concussion. He was cleared in time to play in last week's MLS Reserve League game in Seattle, but now he's angling for a role in the real thing.

The Goats on Sunday take on Eastern Conference leader New York Red Bulls in Harrison, N.J., and Lahoud could be back on the right flank. Or not. It's the most complicated of the decisions Robin Fraser, Chivas' head coach, must make following red cards to Andy Boyens and Marcos Mondaini in last week's loss at Real Salt Lake.

The swap for Mondaini, who was suspended four games after injuring RSL's Javier Morales with a clumsy tackle, is relatively simple: Justin Braun, the Goats' top scorer last year (with nine goals).

In the back, Fraser has options. He could return Zarek Valentin, who has looked very good at right back, to central defense and put Lahoud on the right. Or he could keep Valentin on the right and give Ben Zemanski, who was solid in the back last week after Boyens' departure, another go in the middle.

“Zarek's a good center back, and Michael's a budding, learning right back,” Fraser said as he mulled the possibilities late last week. “Obviously, Ben did a great job at center back, and Zarek has been doing a good job at right back. We have the luxury of being able to make a decision as opposed to being pigeonholed and not being able to make a choice but take what's available.”

Injuries have sapped Chivas' backline depth, but the hole-patching has led to some revelations. Zemanski as a center back. Heath Pearce in the middle. Lahoud on the right.

The Wake Forest product had played every midfield position in his first two MLS seasons, under former Chivas coaches Preki and Martin Vasquez, and Fraser gave him a long, hard look as a holding midfielder before backline leader Jimmy Conrad went down with a concussion and Valentin took off for CONCACAF U-20 qualifying in late March.

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