Los Angeles Soccer: Philadelphia Union

CHIVAS: Open Cup final would be away

July, 6, 2012
The scenarios for the U.S. Open Cup final have been unveiled, and everybody has a shot at a home game except Chivas USA.

The Goats would play at Sporting Kansas City or Philadelphia Union if they topple three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders in Wednesday night's semifinal in Tukwila, Wash.

The final will be Aug. 7 or 8.

The Sounders, who have won the past two titles before 30,000-plus crowds at CenturyLink Field, would be home with a victory and a Philadelphia triumph over Sporting in Wednesday's other semifinal. Sporting is home with a win regardless of what happens in the Chivas-Sounders match.

Seattle beat Chivas in the 2010 semifinals, the only other time the Goats have advanced past their opening game.

Here are the title-game scenarios:
  • Aug. 7-8: Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union/Sporting Kansas City
  • Aug. 8: Seattle Sounders at Sporting Kansas City
  • Aug. 8: Philadelphia Union at Seattle Sounders

GALAXY: Fourth of July history

July, 4, 2012

CARSON -- The Galaxy have played at home, followed by a fireworks show, every Fourth of July since their inception. That makes Wednesday night's Independence Day clash with the Philadelphia Union their 17th such encounter.

The first seven were at the Rose Bowl, with the Galaxy going 4-3-0. It's been better at Home Depot Center, their home since 2003, with just one loss in nine matches.

The New England Revolution have been the foe on six occasions -- at 2-2-2, they're responsible for half of L.A.'s losses on the Fourth -- and the Galaxy have played Columbus, San Jose and Seattle twice. This is the first time Philly has played in this game.

The Galaxy's top Independence Day scorers? Carlos Ruiz is No. 1, with five, and Landon Donovan has three, none since scoring twice in 2007. Cobi Jones tallied twice in the 1990s.

Here's a quick game-by-game summary of the Galaxy's Fourth of July clashes:

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GALAXY: No Beckham, but maybe Gonzalez

July, 3, 2012

Galaxy ScoreVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesDavid Beckham, second from right, won't play for the Galaxy on Wednesday, but Omar Gonzalez, middle left, might.

CARSON -- It's time for the Galaxy's annual Fourth of July festivities, but David Beckham is a no-show after some fireworks last weekend. Might Omar Gonzalez's return make up for his absence?

L.A.'s biggest name will miss Wednesday night's match against the Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center after picking up a stoppage-time yellow card in last weekend's loss at San Jose, but Gonzalez has been activated from MLS's Disabled List and will be available for the game.

Beckham's caution was his sixth of the season and triggered an automatic one-game suspension for accumulation, and more games on the sideline could be coming later this week.

As the Galaxy starts to awaken from their slumber -- they took a three-game winning streak, marked by diversely strong performances, into Saturday night's defeat -- the last thing they need is the man who runs their attack sitting games out.

“Any time you lose your best player, it's going to hurt,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said as L.A. prepared for Philly. “It's part of the game, but we obviously wish we had him. We've got guys who will step in and do a good job.”

It was inevitable that Beckham would serve a yellow-card suspension -- he did so twice last year -- after picking up four yellow cards in a six-game span during April and May. The fifth means a one-game ban, and Beckham had erased one of his with three clean games before picking up cards in each of the last two games.

“Actually, David started the season with a lot of cards right in the beginning, and I think he's done fairly well since then,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “Certainly, when you start off with four yellow cards in the first four games, or close to it, you're going to be dealing with suspension at some point.”

Arena is mistaken on the specifics: Beckham didn't pick up his first caution until L.A.'s seventh game and has been carded six times in his last 10 league appearances. Saturday's card was totally unnecessary.

Beckham, frustrated as Sam Cronin sat prone in front of the Earthquakes' goal during a stoppage, seemingly trying to waste away the game's final seconds, twice booted balls from the left wing toward the San Jose midfielder. The second ball struck Cronin and ricocheted off referee Hilario Grajeda, who pulled the yellow.

In the pushing and shoving that ensued, Beckham got to face-to-face with a couple of Quakes, at one point lowering his head into that of Quakes midfielder Rafael Baca, the former Loyola Marymount All-American from Lawndale. When the final whistle blew moments later, Beckham had to be prevented from going after San Jose midfielder Khari Stephenson.

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OPEN CUP: Sounders next for Goats

June, 26, 2012
Chivas USA has reached the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the second time in club history. A familiar foe awaits.

The Goats will meet three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, who won the meeting in the semis two years ago, on July 10 in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders toppled the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, in Tuesday's semifinal in San Francisco.

Jose Erik Correa's second goal of the evening, nearly four minutes into stoppage, lifted Chivas to a 2-1 victory over USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles at Cal State Fullerton.

The Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City will meet in the other all-MLS semifinal after cruising past opposition from the third-division USL Pro.

The Union scored three times in the first half-hour en route to a 5-2 romp over the Harrisburg City Islanders; Sporting received goals three minutes apart early in the second half from Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong to pull away to a 3-0 victory over the Dayton Dutch Lions.

Philadelphia will be home for the July 11 clash. The U.S. Open Cup final will be played Aug. 7 or 8.

A quick look at the three quarterfinal matches not involving Chivas USA:

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MLS Power Rankings: Ch-ch-ch-changes

June, 13, 2012

Piotr NowakMike Stobe/Getty Images/New York Red BullsPeter Nowak, who won an MLS Cup as a player in 1998, was fired as Philadelphia coach on Wednesday.

The first coaching changes of the Major League Soccer have come down, neither all that surprising, although one of them is disappointing.

Philadelphia on Wednesday cut ties with Peter Nowak, who took the Union to the playoffs in year two, then dismantled the team piece by piece, infuriating the club's supporters and puzzling the youngsters on the roster.

Nowak, a Polish star who captained Chicago to the 1998 MLS Cup title, coached D.C. to the 2004 crown, served as Bob Bradley's chief assistant with the U.S. national team and guided the U.S. men at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, had dumped fan favorites Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Califf, then last week traded Danny Mwanga -- which the club took with the first pick in its first collegiate draft -- to Portland for Jorge Perlaza, a deal that made a lot of sense tactically.

The other moves, not so much, but the furor had become deafening. Assistant coach John Hackworth steps in as interim coach.

Toronto FC last week made the first change of the year, dismissing former Dutch superstar Aron Winter and giving the reins to director of player development Paul Mariner, the former English star and New England assistant coach. Mariner's first move was to simplify things, dumping Winter's 4-3-3 formation for a traditional 4-4-2.

Winter was ousted after the Reds lost their first nine league games, a mystifying run given the quality in the team. TFC has never been close to a success, but Winter in the past year had brought it to respectability, and many observers -- here, too -- predicted playoffs, especially after the CONCACAF Champions League triumph over the Galaxy. He delivered in the Canadian Championship, guiding the Reds to their fourth straight title and another Champions League berth.

Winter was the victim of circumstances and a management group that has repeatedly made poor decisions, at least until hiring Winter. We would have given him the rest of the season. Nowak? The right move.

Who's next to go? Chivas USA fans were out for Robin Fraser's head earlier this season, but he's going nowhere -- and Goats supporters should be very happy about that. Chivas is going to be very, very good soon.

Toronto had the worst record (1-9-0) in MLS, and Philly's (2-7-2) was No. 2. After that, it's the Galaxy (3-8-2). Should Bruce Arena be worried? We don't believe so, but L.A. has made five of its six head-coaching dismissals (or, in the parlance, agreed mutually to part ways) in midseason. Only two off those fired (Lothar Osiander in 1997 and Steve Sampson in 2006) had worse records than the Galaxy's current mark.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 14:
Latest: Alvaro Saborio's hat trick for Costa Rica has him brimming with confidence for Chivas USA clash.
On the All-Star ballot: G Nick Rimando, D Nat Borchers, D Jamison Olave, M Kyle Beckerman, F Alvaro Saborio, F Fabian Espindola.
Next: Saturday vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Galaxy, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2
Week 14:
Latest: Thierry Henry back on the mend, missing training with a calf injury. Joel Lindpere and Rafa Marquez return from international duty with knocks.
On the All-Star ballot: G Ryan Meara, D Heath Pearce, M Joel Lindpere, M Dane Richards, F Thierry Henry, F Kenny Cooper.
Next: Sunday at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, June 20, at Vancouver, 8 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 14:
Latest: Emergency appendectomy sidelines defender Matt Besler.
On the All-Star ballot: G Jimmy Nielsen, D Aurelien Collin, M Roger Espinoza, M Graham Zusi, F Kei Kamara, F C.J. Sapong.
Next: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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OPEN CUP: 3 USL Pro clubs advance

June, 5, 2012
The U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals are set after a wild fourth round that provided four overtime games and just one major upset, and the biggest story of the round concerns the USL Pro's unexpected success.

All three third-division teams in action Tuesday pulled out victories, all in overtime, to advance to the June 26 quarterfinals in the 99th edition of American soccer's oldest and most prestigious knockout tournament.

The Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions and Harrisburg City Islanders join five Major League Soccer clubs in the final eight, all of them set to take on first-division opposition.

The Islanders pulled off the upset, booting MLS power New York Red Bulls from the competition for the second time in three years. Sainey Touray, a former Red Bull, scored his second goal of the night in the 94th minute and rookie Lucky Mkosana added another in the 117th for a 3-1 victory.

Harrisburg overcame a three-goal overtime deficit last week to beat the New England Revolution on penalties.

Dayton toppled amateurs Michigan Bucks, 2-1, and Charlotte claimed a 2-1 win at San Antonio, on Mauricio Salles' 116th-minute penalty kick, in the USL Pro's only showdown with the second-division North American Soccer League.

Charlotte will play Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. Dayton has a date at Sporting Kansas City.

The Philadelphia Union also needed overtime to get past D.C. United in one of two all-MLS clashes.

Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart was the hero for the the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring in the 85th minute to beat the NASL's Minnesota Thunder, 2-1, at Stanford.

Here is a scorelist and schedule:

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CHIVAS: Califf happy, despite his words

May, 18, 2012
CARSON -- Danny Califf wants to be clear: He did not ask the Philadelphia Union for a trade, did not want one. He and his family were happy in Philly, and he had no desire to come home.

Danny Califf
Paul Frederiksen/US PresswireDanny Califf, though excited to play for Chivas USA, says he did not ask for a trade from Philadelphia as some have said.

That runs counter to Union manager Peter Nowak's comments as the deal that sent the veteran defender to Chivas USA proceeded this week, but there's more: Califf is ecstatic to be wearing the red and white stripes and happy to be back home.

He's not bipolar, by any means, and he saw no need to explain his sentiments to his new teammates when he joined them for his first training session Friday morning at Home Depot Center.

“I was unhappy with the way it was handled and the way it was said I had asked for a trade. That's what I was unhappy with,” said Califf, 32, who still has a home in Orange, his hometown, although he'll have to pay off his renter to move back in. “I understand trades happen. We were happy in Philly, but by no means does that mean I'm not happy to be here. That's ridiculous.

“It's a new chapter for me and it's going to be a transition, but I'm not worried about what these guys are going to think. After they know me and have been around me for a little bit, they'll know what I'm all about, so I don't have any worries about that.”

Neither does Chivas coach Robin Fraser, whose final year as a player with the Galaxy was Califf's rookie season.

“He's the kind of guy,” Fraser said, “that once he puts the shirt on, he's completely dedicated to where he is.”

Assistant coach Greg Vanney, technical director/head scout Simon Elliott and midfielder Peter Vagenas also played with Califf during his 2000-04 stint with L.A.. Director of Soccer Operations Kevin Esparza was his coach at Orange High School.

“I feel like I'm coming home,” Califf said.

He's done so to provide experience, leadership and bite to a pretty good defensive unit, and his presence, at least on paper, improves Chivas' backline, even with Heath Pearce leaving for New York. Califf's acquisition was to replace Pearce, who was traded Thursday for forward Juan Agudelo.

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CHIVAS: Not just Califf; Agudelo, too

May, 17, 2012

AgudeloChris Trotman/Getty ImagesJuan Agudelo, only 19, has already looked comfortable playing against older competition.

CARSON -- The Danny Califf trade we've been hearing about the last few days finally came down Thursday, but the big news was that it wasn't the big news.

Chivas USA made two deals, and by far the sexier is rising U.S. national team star Juan Agudelo's acquisition from the New York Red Bulls, a move the Goats have pursued for some time and for which they had to give up plenty.

Off to New York is defender Heath Pearce, a natural left back converted to center back by Chivas, along with allocation money, “future considerations” (almost certainly a percentage of Agudelo's future transfer fee) and, according to the New York Post, an agreement to pay part of Pearce's salary this season.

To replace Pearce, Chivas sent fourth-year winger Michael Lahoud, among the Goats' fastest, smartest and most versatile players, to Philadelphia for Califf, a deal that's been tracked since Union manager Peter Nowak mentioned it Sunday, to Chivas' consternation.

Agudelo and Califf are expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Thursday night, train with their teammates for the first time Friday morning, and be available for Saturday night's SuperClasico against the Galaxy at Home Depot Center.

The Colombian-born Agudelo, just 19, has superstar potential. He's big, strong, skilled, with savvy and insight well beyond his years, and his initial success with the U.S. national team -- he scored in his debut a week before his 18th birthday and has looked quite at home against older, more experienced competition -- has him facing heavy expectations from soccer fans across the country and around the world.

Chivas head coach Robin Fraser, looking for something different after his team scored just six goals in a 3-6-1 start to the season, looked to deflect those expectations after signing off on the trade Thursday morning.

“For us to improve our place in the standings, it's about everybody continuing to improve,” he said, “and certainly [Agudelo and Califf] come in and we incorporate everyone and we figure out what's best for the team to go forward. I don't feel it's the type of situation where Juan is being brought in here to save the day. Juan is a good player, and we look forward to seeing him grow and develop, but the onus is still on the team. We have a lot to do as a team.”

Chivas loses one of its most important players in Pearce, an MLS All-Star last year with national team experience, and a player seemingly on the verge of a breakthrough in Lahoud, who was set to start on the right flank before a hamstring injury two days before the Major League Soccer opener sidelined him for nearly two months.

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CHIVAS USA: Who's in, who's out

May, 17, 2012

CARSON -- The trade Chivas USA appeared to be making turned out to be two trades. Put together, they're a real blockbuster.

The Goats acquired teenage forward Juan Agudelo, a U.S. national teamer considered the country's brightest young star, from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for defender Heath Pearce and allocation money.

Pearce's spot will be taken by veteran center back Danny Califf, whose arrival from the Philadelphia Union has been trumpeted since Philly manager Peter Nowak began talking about it Sunday. To get Califf, the Goats gave up fourth-year winger Michael Lahoud and allocation money.

Here's a quick look at what Chivas picked up and gave up in Thursday's deals:


Juan Agudelo
Brandon Wade/Getty ImagesJuan Agudelo

JUAN AGUDELO: The 19-year-old, Colombian-born striker carries huge expectations, not just in Major League Soccer, but among soccer followers all over the country. He's made 15 international appearances, scoring the winning goal against South Africa in his U.S. debut in November 2010, a week before his 18th birthday -- and he's been in all but three camps with the national team since then, missing January's HDC gathering because of injury and the February game in Italy while preparing for Olympic qualifying.

Agudelo signed with the Red Bulls in March 2010 out of the club's academy following a trial in Colombia with Millonarios. He made two league appearances for just 16 minutes as a rookie but played in 27 games last year, with 12 starts, six goals and two assists. He's seen action twice this year after recovering from knee surgery after he was injured during the Olympic qualifier.

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CHIVAS: Califf done? Depends who's talking

May, 16, 2012
CARSON -- The deal to bring Danny Califf to Chivas USA either is done, or just about, or still somewhere in the talking stages. That's something the Goats and the Philadelphia Union can't agree upon.

Danny Califf
Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesDanny Califf, a native of Orange and a former Galaxy player, could be returning to the Southland to play for Chivas USA.

Union manager Peter Nowak announced at his weekly news conference Wednesday that Califf, a 32-year-old center back from Orange, would be exchanged to Chivas “for a player and something else” and that the trade was in “the league process of confirming some stuff.”

Nowak said a lot more, and the reverberations were felt all the way to Field 6 at Home Depot Center, where Goats general manager Jose Domene bustled onto the turf as the morning training session was breaking up, saying he needed to talk to head coach Robin Fraser.

Moments later, Fraser was rushing off to his office, with Domene, right behind, noting that they “have to put out a fire.”

Chivas' official stance on the Califf deal is that there's not a deal, not yet. Talks are going on, they begrudgingly acknowledge, and Fraser said, when asked if he expected something to be finalized before the weekend: “Yes. Something being finalized, yes.”

That something also could be that Califf (Orange HS) isn't coming, although when pressed to whether it could be finalized “either way,” Fraser made it sound as if it's going to happen.

“At this point I would say ...,” he said, before pausing in thought for several seconds, “I guess until any deal is done, you can't say for sure.”

Nowak seems to be saying for sure. He provided plenty of detail at his news conference in Chester, Pa., although even he hedged a little, admitting “we are are still in the process of concluding this trade.”

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CHIVAS USA: Bid for Califf on the table

May, 13, 2012

Chivas USA has made two offers to the Philadelphia Union to acquire veteran center back Danny Califf, according to Philly's manager, but Goats head coach Robin Fraser has nothing to say about it.

Peter Nowak told the Philadelphia Daily News on Sunday that the Union had declined an initial offer from Chivas but are considering a counteroffer for the club's captain's services.

“Danny Califf's status is that we received an offer for him this last week and we informed the player right after it happened,” Nowak told media following the Union's 3-2 loss Sunday against the New York Red Bulls. “I talked to Danny ... but we did not conclude anything, so as of right now he is still with us.”

Nowak would not identify the team making the offers after the game, but reports from multiple outlets said it was Chivas -- later confirmed -- and the name bandied about most of all was Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel's. One report also had Chivas picking up teenage striker Jack McInerney.

Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles he was “shocked to hear” Nowak's comments after part of the Philadelphia Daily News story was read to him.

“We listen to inquiries every day, we make inquiries every day,” Fraser said. “It's part of the job. It happens all the time. ... Not a day goes by when we don't inquiries or make inquiries.”

Asked whether Nowak's comments were accurate, Fraser said: “Let's just say we've made enquiries. ... It's all speculation at this point.”

The Brotherly Game blog, which covers the Union, said several unidentified sources reported the trade has been completed.

The 32-year-old Califf (Orange/Orange HS), a 2000 Olympian who has made 23 appearances for the U.S. national team, began his pro career with the Galaxy in 2000, making 137 first-team appearances in five seasons with the club and playing a key role on the 2002 MLS Cup-winning side.

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CHIVAS: Another Philly fine, suspension

April, 27, 2012

Major League Soccer, it turns out, wasn't done handing down discipline when Thursday it fined Chivas USA, Goats head coach Robin Fraser and the Philadelphia Union and fined and suspended Philly coach Peter Nowak.

The league's disciplinary committee Friday suspended Union defender Gabriel Farfan an additional two games and assessed an undisclosed fine for a “reckless” challenge and for “failing to leave the field in an orderly manner” for his actions in the 85th minute.

Farfan was red-carded for a violent, cleats-first tackle on Chivas USA defender James Riley, leading to a skirmish that resulted in Nowak's expusion, $5,000 fine and two-game ban, a $5,000 fine to the Union, and $500 fines to Fraser and Chivas.

In all, Farfan -- a former Cal State Fullerton standout from Wildomar -- will miss three games: this weekend against San Jose, May 5 at Seattle and May 13 against New York.

CHIVAS: Fraser fined in red-card incident

April, 26, 2012
Major League Soccer on Thursday handed down fines and suspensions out of last weekend's Chivas USA-Philadelphia Union clash, and Robin Fraser got dinged.

Robin Fraser
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesChivas USA coach Robin Fraser and team were fined after an incident in last week's game.

Chivas' head coach was fined $500 and the organization penalized $2,500 following an 85th-minute incident in Saturday's game at Home Depot Center, but the Union were hit much harder.

It centered on former Cal State Fullerton star Gabriel Farfan's two-footed lunge at Chivas left back James Riley in front of Philadelphia's bench during the Union's 1-0 victory. Farfan was red-carded for the play, leaving Philly down to nine men for the final five minutes plus stoppage.

Fraser left the coaches box and crossed the midfield line, while still on the sideline, the moment Farfan slid into Riley. He was penalized for doing so, and Chivas was fined “for the behavior of its players and team staff,” MLS said in a release.

Philadelphia head coach Peter Nowak was suspended two games in all and fined $5,000 for his role in the incident. The former U.S. under-23 coach stepped onto the field almost immediately after the foul, doing so as referee Juan Guzman trotted toward the sideline while reaching into his back pocket for the red card to show Farfan. Nowak entered the scrum of players that gathered around Farfan and appeared to shove Chivas defender Rauwshan McKenzie.

Nowak was ejected from the game at that point, which was accompanied by a one-game suspension. MLS added the second game Thursday and fined the Union an additional $5,000 for its players' and staff's behavior.

CHIVAS: Home loss almost feels good

April, 21, 2012

CARSON -- It happened again for Chivas USA -- another 1-0 loss at home, and in a match that turned really ugly at the end -- but forget the score and how Philadelphia got its goal, and it felt a lot like a victory.

The Goats dominated the Union on Saturday night at Home Depot Center, racking up 21 shots (to just four for the visitors), sending 40 crosses in from the run for play (to just five for Philly) and holding onto the ball for two-thirds of the game. Impressive numbers, but the only one that mattered -- how many of the chances generated were finished -- was nil.

“Obviously, we're gutted,” said right back James Riley, whose misplay in the box led to the goal, by Freddy Adu just before halftime. “Obviously we don't ever want to lose four straight at home, especially 1-0.”

The good news for the Goats: Next week's game is on the road, at Colorado. Chivas (3-4-0, 9 points) has won all three away games.

They should have had this one, too, but Philadelphia sat back, was difficult to break down, scored on its only real chance, then hung on as Chivas sent a barrage of balls into the box in the second half but forcing Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to make just one tough save, diving to parry a 28-yard free kick from Blair Gavin.

Miller Bolaņos was the primary instigator, repeatedly taking on defenders along the right flank -- Wildomar's Gabriel Farfan, largely -- and spraying balls into the middle, but the Goats struggled to get on the end of crosses, and when they did, the touches weren't quite right.

Philly's goal came from an odd play. Michael Farfan -- Gabriel's twin brother -- danced into the box from the right flank and was able to get a low cross into the goalmouth past defender Heath Pearce. It hit Riley, who should have cleared the ball but instead fell over. Adu backheeled it into the net.

“I take full responsibility,” Riley said. “For sure, it's a play I make 99 times out of 100, for sure. I feel bad for the team, letting them down that way. ... Just leaned back too much. It got caught under me. I was just going to try to swipe it out. I was in a good position, just didn't execute it.”

Juan Pablo Angel, back in action after missing five games following a concussion, came on in the second half and had Chivas' best opportunity. Bolaņos delivered a perfect cross just beyond the 6-yard box, but the big striker's header bounced wide and high.

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CHIVAS: Goats want to win at home, too

April, 20, 2012

Nick LaBroccaAbelimages/Getty ImagesChivas USA's Nick LaBrocca says his team stop giving away points at home and start winning.

CARSON -- Chivas USA has quickly revealed itself as a most effective road team, winning all three encounters away from Home Depot Center after staving off extended pressure and scoring goals both beautiful and timely.

Victories at Real Salt Lake, Portland and last week in Toronto have produced within the team a standard of confidence absent since the glory days of Preki's reign, and suddenly the Goats are starting to look like a genuine contender for a postseason berth, perhaps more.

Their next step? Prove they can win at home.

Chivas (3-3-0, 9 points) is zero for Home Depot Center, with three losses in three home games -- all by 1-0 scorelines -- heading into Saturday night's match against the Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center. Road wins are terrific, but a team can't succeed unless they claim points at home.

“We need it,” midfielder Nick LaBrocca said. “We definitely need to win at home. Dropping three [points] at home is definitely something to be forgotten.”

Since they were last home, three weeks ago in a defeat to still-perfect Sporting Kansas City, Chivas has overcome a deficit with two second-half goals, both off astoundingly good service from Ryan Smith, to win in Portland, then tallied from a corner kick and held on against a heavy win to pick up all the points in Toronto.

A better focused, more aggressive attacking mindset is turning possession into chances, and the Goats' defense has been among the best in the league -- in great part because of Ecuadoran midfielder Oswaldo Minda, who has been dominant in the middle. Miller Bolaņos, Minda's Ecuadoran countryman, is starting to assert himself.

“Everyone's personalities are starting to come out,” LaBrocca said. “You can't just throw it all out there right away without knowing where to really be effective. ... We're starting to see more relationships being built. The chemistry on the field, on the ball is growing, and also learning the quality of you teammates and ... what position you need to be there to help them in.”

The Goats could have Juan Pablo Angel back against Philadelphia. The Colombian striker, who has missed the past five games, cleared MLS's post-concussion protocol Friday morning and will be available for selection. Maybe he starts, maybe he comes off the bench, maybe he doesn't play until Monday's MLS Reserve League match against Seattle.

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