CARSON -- The guest of honor stayed home after a small setback in his rehabilition from injury, so it was Juan Pablo Angel who took the spotlight, making his first start since opening day in Monday's MLS Reserve League match at Home Depot Center.
Steve Zakuani, the electrifying Seattle winger who has been sidelined a year since a gruesome tackle shattered his right leg, had targeted this one for his return to Major League Soccer action, but he pulled himself out of training Sunday and was left in Washington when the team traveled to L.A.
The Sounders pulled out a 4-3 victory without him, with Riverside's Sammy Ochoa scoring twice, including the winning goal in the 70th minute.
Angel scored on a penalty kick and assisted a Casey Townsend goal with a nifty pass, but Chivas twice gave away leads in an absorbing match, clearly the most entertaining played at HDC yet this year.
“We've been struggling scoring goals, so we put an emphasis on trying to get goals, create chances,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who grew up in Torrance and has won championships, among other places, with the Galaxy and at UCLA. “I think we did a good job, scoring four goals, and I think we had chances to maybe score eight.”
That approach led to end-to-end action. It was 1-1 by the 12th minute, the Sounders hit the post three times in the first 24 minutes, and at least three goals -- by Chivas' Laurent Courtois in the ninth minute, Townsend's go-ahead tally in the 59th, and a blistering first-time blast above the box by Sounders rookie (out of UCLA) Andy Rose to tie the score three minutes later -- featured first-class finishes.
Angel has scored just twice for Chivas this year, the other in a Feb. 3 preseason game. Both have come from the penalty spot. He won this one, fouled by Andrew Duran in the 38th minute, then firing easily past goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
Angel, who missed five league matches because of a concussion, was a second-half substitute in Chivas' first-team game Saturday night against Philadelphia, and his performance largely was defined by an open header he mishit wide. He was more assured Monday.
“The more he plays, the better he's going to get ...,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “[Today I saw] sharp movement, good ideas on the ball, good timing of runs. It was important that he gets some more game minutes. Game minutes means you have to make game-speed decisions, and I thought that a lot of times today his decisions were good.”
Townsend saw it, too.
“You can tell he's getting the swagger back a little bit,” the rookie said. “He's at players, trying to get to goal. ... It's great that Juan's back. He's such a leader on this team. People look up to him. And he'll be back to his old self soon, I'm sure.”
Zakuani has been training for a month with Seattle's first team, but he's played in only one match, going 45 minutes of an April 1 reserve friendly against Gonzaga University.
“We had hopes he might be able to play today a bit, but his foot acted up a little bit,” Schmid said. “There's a little bit of pain there. When you're going through a rehab, it's, like, three steps forward and a step back, three steps forward and a step back. So the decision was made not to do it right now and hold off a little bit.”
Zakuani told The Seattle Times he still has “a lot of work to do, a lot of pushing to do” and expressed disappointment he couldn't play against Chivas.
“That's how rehab goes,” he told the newspaper. “You go up a bit, then you plateau, then you go up a bit again. I've been pushing the last couple of weeks and [the pain] is just a reaction to that. It's bad timing.”
WORTH NOTING: Colombian forward Jose Erick Correa, whose transfer from Boyaca Chico was completed a little more than a week ago, has received his visa and is awaiting receipt of a permanent passport before heading to L.A., general manager Jose Domene said. He's expected to arrive before the end of the week. ... Trialist Cesar Torres, who started at right back, suffered a separated shoulder during a tussle with Ochoa and departed in the 35th minute. Chivas finished the game with 10 men after Cesar Romero twisted his left ankle in the 88th minute, after the Goats' substitutions had been exhausted. ... Townsend started on the right flank and moved into the middle when Angel departed in the 63rd minute. ... A fifth player has arrived from the CESIFUT academy in Torreon: midfielder Javier Mena, who was on the bench Monday. ... Eric Gonzalez, a fixture in first-team training, was the only Chivas Academy player to see time. ... Seattle's roster included first-teamers David Estrada, a UCLA alum who was a force on the left flank, and Zach Scott, at left back.
MLS RESERVE LEAGUE
Home Depot Center Track and Field Stadium (Carson)
Chivas USA 3, Seattle Sounders 4
C -- Laurent Courtois (Blair Gavin) 9
S -- Cordell Cato (Roger Levesque) 12
S -- Sammy Ochoa (Mike Seamon) 31
C -- Juan Pablo Angel pen. 39
C -- Casey Townsend (Juan Pablo Angel) 59
S -- Andy Rose (Servando Carrasco) 62
S -- Sammy Ochoa (Andrew Duran) 70
Chivas USA: Tim Melia; Carlos Torres (Mario Ledesma, 35), John Alexander Valencia, Scott Gordon, Jorge Villafaña (Gerardo Torres, 67); Blair Gavin (Eric Gonzalez, 65); Marco Delgado, Cesar Rivera; Casey Townsend, Juan Pablo Angel (Victor Chavez, 63), Laurent Courtois. Unused subs: Jorge Marquez, Javier Mena, Patrick McLain.
Seattle Sounders: Bryan Meredith; Roger Levesque, Andrew Duran, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott; Mike Seamon, Andy Rose, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada (Alex Caskey, 58); Cordell Cato, Sammy Ochoa (Sean Morris, 90). Unused subs: Armando Ochoa, Jonathan Prieto, Stephen Spangler.
Yellow cards: Carrasco 10, Cato 45, Levesque 67, G. Torres 91+.
Referee: Daniel Radford. Att.: c. 45.
Records: Chivas USA 1-1-0, 3 points; Seattle 1-2-1, 4 points.
1. Portland 2-1-0 (5-1 F-A) 6 points
2. Seattle 1-1-1 (5-7) 4
3. Vancouver 1-1-1 (3-5) 4
4. Chivas USA 1-1-0 (4-3) 3
5. San Jose 1-1-0 (2-2) 3
6. Galaxy 1-1-0 (3-4) 3