Los Angeles Soccer: Jacob Peterson
Chivas USA's quest for a trophy ended the same place its last real quest met its end, where every quest, at least for this trophy, seems to come to a close.
The Goats ran into the Seattle Sounders in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinals, and if their usual trouble spots -- an inability to create chances, costly mistakes in the worst places -- hadn't put them at a sizable disadvantage, then surely the reigning champs' attacking prowess would have done the trick.
The Sounders advanced to a fourth straight U.S. Open Cup title game -- and perhaps an unprecedented fourth straight triumph -- with a 4-1 romp in Tukwila, Wash., where they are 17-0 in the 99-year-old tournament.
Eddie Johnson gave Seattle a 31st-minute lead, Osvaldo Alonso converted a penalty kick at the start of the second half, and Cesar Romero's strike to halve the deficit with about 20 minutes to go was answered by UC Irvine product Brad Evans and Riverside's Sammy Ochoa near the end.
Chivas, which hasn't won a trophy in its 7 1/2-year history, failed in its biggest match since falling in the semifinals two years ago to the Sounders on the same Starfire Sports Complex turf.
“Early in the game was exactly as we expected it to be: a battle for territory, not giving anything up, getting into good spots,” head coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “I really thought it was going exactly as expected. Then we made a mistake to give up a bad goal, made another mistake for a bad goal to start the second half, then we're chasing the game.”
Chivas, despite ample possession, couldn't penetrate, and the service from the wings wasn't good enough. Starfire's narrow dimensions caused problems, and the Goats didn't get off a shot until the 58th minute -- and didn't get off a good one until Romero, who provided a big spark off the bench, made it 2-1 in the 74th.
That has been the recurring theme all season: Chivas has only 17 goals over 21 games in all competitions, and it's not because chances aren't being taken.
“I'd say I'm running short on patience in terms of scoring goals,” said Fraser, whose team has been shut out in three of its last four Major League Soccer matches and scored more than once only four times all year, twice against lower-level Open Cup opposition. “We'll just continue to work at it, continue to try to get the ball in dangerous spots.”
Seattle will face Sporting Kansas City in the final Aug. 8 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting won, 2-0, at Philadelphia, with Jacob Peterson tallying from Graham Zusi's free kick in the 65th minute and -- with Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath pushed forward in search of an equalizer -- Zusi scoring from midfield into an empty net deep into stoppage.
The veteran midfielder from Pasadena (St. Francis HS/UCLA) joined the Goats' preseason preparations this week and is set to sign with the club, likely on Saturday.
“We told you we were looking for experienced players, right? And Pete's been through the wars,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said after Friday morning's fitness session at Home Depot Center. “He's won championships, he's been a very instrumental part of very good teams in this league. When the opportunity came up to get him, it was something we really had to jump at.”
Vagenas, 33, comes to Chivas after a season with Vancouver, in which he started 13 of the 16 league games in which he appeared. He spent the previous two years with Seattle, making 21 league appearances, after nine seasons with the Galaxy.
He helped L.A. win two MLS Cups, two U.S. Open Cups, a CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the 2002 Supporters' Shield, captaining the Galaxy to a MLS Cup/U.S. Open Cup “double” in 2005. He also was with two U.S. Open Cup-winning sides with Seattle.
“We've known Pete ... gosh, his first year was my last year with the Galaxy. So I've known him a long time,” Fraser said. “[Assistant coach] Greg [Vanney] and Jim [Liston, the fitness coach] know him even better than I do. ... Pete's the kind of guy who has been an important part of locker rooms with very successful teams. And we keep coming back to that, looking for guys who have track record of success. And he's been very good.”
The Galaxy settled for another draw Wednesday night, their third of the season -- and the third time they've shared the points when they deserved all three.
L.A. is making a habit out of not getting everything it can from a game, and the Galaxy can lay some of the blame on the goal frame in their 0-0 tie against Toronto FC on a chilly night at BMO Field.
The Galaxy (2-1-3) fell further behind Western Conference leader Real Salt Lake (4-0-0), which beat second-place Colorado (3-2-0) on a stoppage-time finish by Fabian Espindola -- after Javier Morales hit the right post with a free kick. It's the kind of clean-up L.A. needed.
"We didn't have the answer at the end," Dunivant, whose deflected shot hit the top of the bar in the 61st minute, told GolTV Canada after the final whistle. "We had a lot of good balls in, a lot of good chances. ... It's frustrating, but we kept a clean sheet to give ourselves a chance."
L.A. is 0-0-2 on its three-game trek but heads to Chicago for Sunday's game without Beckham, who picked up a one-game suspension with his league-leading fifth yellow card of the season, and fellow starting central midfielder Juninho, who was expelled with his second yellow card of the night deep in second-half stopppage. Landon Donovan has been in L.A. for both games because of an inflamed right knee, and no decision has been made on whether he'll meet the Galaxy in Chicago.
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: That 44th-minute yellow card aside, Beckham was quite good, especially on set pieces. L.A. nearly tallied four times through their auxiliary captain, on the free kick off the post, of course, but also on perfectly weighted crosses that left Mike Magee in the 17th, Omar Gonzalez in the 51st and Barrett in the 81st with open shots. Magee and Barrett's headers were off target, and Gonzalez whiffed trying to get a foot on the ball at the left post.
Beckham's propensity for yellow cards is troubling. He's just one off his MLS high, six, accumulated over 25 games in 2008. The press box wiseacres thought he was looking to get suspended from the Galaxy's game May 1 at FC Dallas so he could attend the royal wedding two days earlier. He'll likely need a red card next week against Portland to make that trip.