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Chivas USA defeats New England, 2-0

The second goal, on a penalty kick, is a point of contention. Was there contact between Chivas forward Eduardo Lillingston and New England goalkeeper Matt Reis?

September 14, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Sometimes, the games within the games are more interesting than the games themselves.

That was the case Sunday afternoon at the Home Depot Center, where Chivas USA defeated the New England Revolution, 2-0, to stay very much in contention for a Major League Soccer playoff berth.

Maicon Santos scored for Chivas 9 minutes 40 seconds into the match off a pass from Justin Braun, and Sacha Kljestan added a second goal on a penalty kick four minutes into injury time.

It was the second goal that was the talking point on an otherwise dull afternoon.

Chivas forward Eduardo Lillingston got in behind the New England defense and was bearing down on goalkeeper Matt Reis. What happened next depends on whom you believe.

Reis went down in an attempt to snag the ball. Lillingston leaped over Reis and then fell in a heap. Referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the penalty spot and Kljestan scored.

Was their contact between Reis and Lillingston?

"It's tough to tell," Chivas Coach Preki said.

"Absolutely not," New England Coach Steve Nicol said.

Was the penalty justified or did Lillingston dive?

"He looked me right in the eye and told me he dove," former UCLA goalkeeper Reis said of his brief post-match conversation with the Mexican striker. "He sold it well.

"He fell well. He made it look good. But if that's a penalty, then there are probably five penalties a game. All in all, though, I don't think we played well enough to win."

Lillingston's version of events was a bit different. Did Reis touch him?

"Just a little bit," Lillingston said with a grin. "Not really touch, but it's the game, no? You try to help your team win. Sometimes it's a penalty. Sometimes no."

So Lillingston took a dive?

"No, absolutely not," he said. "It's a game, man. It's a game."

A rather feeble game, and both teams were at fault.

"We were poor on the ball," Nicol said. "There's no beating about the bush, we were poor on the ball, particularly in the first half. When you're giving the ball away, you're always going to be under pressure and we did it too often."

The Revolution (9-8-6) was without its most influential player, midfielder Shalrie Joseph, but Preki was not about to give New England anything on that front.

"Joseph is a big part of their team," he said, "but they still have a lot of good players. When we don't have certain guys on the field, the other teams don't feel bad for us and say, 'OK, we're going to let Chivas off the hook today.' Our job is to get three points, no matter who is on the field."

Chivas (11-9-3) managed to do that, even though both teams were reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute when New England forward Edgaras Jankauskas threw an elbow at Chivas defender Carey Talley and Talley shoved him in return.

Referee Salazar tossed them both, but it did little to improve the quality of play. Preki, though, did not think the match was that bad.

"I think we were the better team," he said. "It was just frustrating for us on the bench that we were not able to score a second goal. I thought in the first 10 or 15 minutes we should have at least had another one and put the game away.

"But for whatever reason, the ball is not going in the net for us easy the whole year. That's one thing that hopefully will change. But the guys kept plugging away. They kept working for each other, and in the end we got the three points."

--

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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