Los Angeles Soccer: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Bright Dike scored his first goal for the Blues and set up Matt Fondy's finale as L.A. (3-2-1) completed a two-day sweep of lesser sides with a 3-0 romp Saturday night at Pittsburgh (2-5-0).
All three goals came in the second half as the Blues overcame a slow start and gradually assumed command starting about halfway through the first 45 minutes.
Ricky Waddell scored a stunning goal in the first minute of the second half, running onto a bouncing ball and half-volleying it into the upper-left corner from 25 yards to send L.A. ahead.
Dike, who Tuesday joined the Blues on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, chipped over Riverhounds goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap six minutes later from Fondy's ball over the top. Fondy, who played last season for Pittsburgh, netted his second of the season from a Dike feed in the 69th.
The Riverhounds' best chances arrived early, with David Leon hitting the right post in the third minute and former New York Red Bulls youngster Matt Kassel firing at Blues goalkeeper Jose Miranda when 1-on-1 in the eighth minute.
Dike, a fast, physical forward on loan from the Portland Timbers, joined Blues preparations Tuesday and figures to feature USL Pro games Friday against the Dayton Dutch Lions and Saturday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“From watching his highlights, I expect something a little different [from Dike],” Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “Watching his early days, before the Achilles injury, he was more power than finesse. Watching [now], to be honest, he's got nice feet. He's a good all-around player. Now that we're back into a possession style and have tweaked the formation, he's fitting right in.
“He gives us the strength to get through somebody if we need to get through somebody. He's very versatile. The team has responded well to having him here. He seems to be happy as well. ... An addition like that is never going to hurt you.”
Dike, 25, played 11 games in his first Major League Soccer season last year after missing the first 5½ months because of a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in Portland's preseason opener in early February. He had not played in a first-team match this year before the loan deal was completed. He's scheduled to spend the entire USL Pro season with the Blues -- the playoffs begin in late August -- but the Timbers may recall him if they choose to.
Dike's arrival, and former Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo's impending debut, prompted Naimo to switch the Blues (1-2-1) from a 4-1-4-1 alignment to a 4-4-2 that will emphasize the forwards. Galindo remains sidelined with a sprained ankle -- his target date is the May 22 U.S. Open Cup second-round game against the Fullerton Rangers or Ventura County Fusion -- but Matt Fondy and Cheun-Yong Park have impressed in stints up top, providing decent depth to the attack.
Chukwudi Chijindu scored twice and set up Edwin Miranda's brilliant opener as L.A. Blues put together their best performance since last month's Caribbean trip in a 3-0 romp over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Bridgeville, Pa.
Chijindu, with the Blues on loan from Chivas USA, struck in the 28th minute and in second-half stoppage as L.A. (5-2-2) opened a seven-point lead on Rochester in the USL Pro's National Division. Rochester (3-3-1) has two games in hand, but the Blues are the only team with a winning record in the division. Pittsburgh fell to 2-4-2.
L.A. had been up and down since going 3-0-0 to start a season-opening trip to Puerto Rico and Antigua, winning just one of five games after Friday's 1-1 draw at Dayton, the league's only winless side.
But Miranda blasted a Chijindu feed to the upper-right corner from just above the box in the 17th minute, and Chijindu made it 2-0 just 11 minutes later from a Walter Gaitan flick.
Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Dautt stopped Stefan Lundberg 1-on-1 in the second half to claim his second shutout of the season.