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HOUSTON 3, CHIVAS USA 2

Chivas rally comes too late

Michael Lahoud and Eduardo Lillingston score after Dynamo takes a 3-0 lead. Chivas will meet Galaxy in the first round of the playoffs.

October 26, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

It was when Dominic Oduro's shot in the 29th minute hit the back of the net Sunday afternoon that Chivas USA should have known it was all over.

Oduro's first goal of the Major League Soccer season was also the Houston Dynamo's second of the game, and because it has been more than a year since Chivas last scored three goals in a game, Chivas was destined for defeat.

To their credit, the Chivas players threw everything they had at Houston, but the Dynamo, MLS champion as recently as 2006 and 2007, ended up winning, 3-2, in Carson and will play the Seattle Sounders in the first round of the playoffs.

Chivas has a real home-and-home series against the Galaxy in store, with the first game at the Home Depot Center on Sunday at 2 p.m. and the second in the same stadium a week later at 4:30 p.m.

Chivas ended the regular season with a 13-11-6 record and in fourth place in the Western Conference. Houston finished in second place behind the Galaxy with a 13-8-9 mark.

The Chivas players appeared more exhausted by their effort than concerned at the loss.

"I just told them in the locker room, the way we played, the way we fought, our energy, hopefully they will get rewarded because there was only one team on the field," Coach Preki said, " . . . and that team lost.

"Sometimes -- quite a few times, actually -- the game can be cruel."

Next up is the Galaxy, a team that has tied Chivas, 0-0, this season and also twice beaten it by 1-0 scores.

"The Galaxy had the better of us this year and obviously they are favorites," Preki said, "but I think the group will be ready to play."

Chivas fell behind within the first half an hour Sunday, with Andrew Hainault scoring on a header in the 26th minute and Oduro making it 2-0 three minutes later.

When Abe Thompson scored the Dynamo's third goal, seven minutes into the second half, it looked as if a rout might be in the making, but Chivas fought back and got goals from Michael Lahoud and Eduardo Lillingston.

Had a couple of calls gone its way, the outcome might have been different. But Chivas had one goal disallowed on an offside call and on another occasion its appeals for a penalty kick fell on deaf ears.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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