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SOCCER

Chivas USA gets a tie, and it'll fit for now

The 2-2 tie with San Jose moves Chivas into the Western Conference lead with 45 points, but it'll be short-lived because the Galaxy and the Dynamo play today and both have 44 points. So does Seattle.

October 18, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Already assured of a place in Major League Soccer's playoffs, Chivas USA took its eye off the ball Saturday night.

First it allowed a 1-0 lead to disappear because of sloppy defending. Then it failed to take into account that the visiting San Jose Earthquakes had a backup goalkeeper in the nets out to prove himself.

Add those facts together and the Earthquakes walked out of the Home Depot Center with a deserved 2-2 tie.

The point was enough to move Chivas USA into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with 45 points, but it will be a short-lived lead because the Galaxy and the Dynamo play today in Houston and both have 44 points.

So do the Seattle Sounders after their 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Wizards. The West, it appears, will go down to the wire, which is stretched across next Sunday, the final day of the MLS regular season.

Chivas might have had a three-point lead with two games to go but for its defensive miscues and the play of San Jose goalkeeper Andrew Weber, 26, who was making only his second professional start.

The former Montreal Impact player out of the University of New Mexico had won his first game, 2-1, at D.C. United, and he made sure the Earthquakes stayed in Saturday's contest.

Weber was helpless to prevent Chivas forward Maykel Galindo from scoring 6:29 into the match with a searing shot. He also had no chance of snaring Justin Braun's game-tying goal on a header in the 66th minute. Otherwise, he was unbeatable.

His best save came in the first half when he dived to his left to turn Michael Lahoud's shot around the post. Teammate Arturo Alvarez headed Braun's header off the line on the resulting corner kick.

In the second half, Weber made a foot save on Galindo; bobbled but recovered a shot by Sacha Kljestan; foiled Maycon Santos one-on-one after Santos had been put clear by a Braun back-heel; knocked down a Braun snap shot; and finally denied Braun again by taking the ball off his feet in the area.

In all, Weber made eight saves. Chivas USA's Zach Thornton, the top goalkeeper in the league, made none.

San Jose's first goal came in the 21st minute when Chris Leitch sent a free kick down the sideline to Shea Salinas, and the midfielder's cross to the back post found an unmarked Brandon McDonald, who said thank you and scored.

The Earthquakes' second goal, in the 58th minute, was also the result of poor marking when Leitch sent in a cross and Ryan Johnson was free to head the ball home.

Braun's goal saved Chivas, but the defense suddenly looks suspect.

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grahame jones@latimes.com

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