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SOCCER

In battle between Chivas, Guadalajara is a tad better

Mexican club beats its USA relative, 2-0, on goals by Omar Arellano.

September 24, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Chivas USA and Chivas de Guadalajara spent 70 minutes Wednesday night passing a round ball across a more or less green Rose Bowl field and accomplished virtually nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Then Guadalajara and its fans came to life and the Mexican club left the stadium with a comfortable 2-0 victory courtesy of goals by Omar Arellano.

Before that, though, it was dreadful. If referee Paul Ward had had the freedom and the foresight to end it after 45 minutes, the majority of the announced crowd of 22,879 would not have complained.

Mexican businessman Jorge Vergara owns the biggest share of both teams.

He arrived at the stadium in a stretch limousine, but no one would have blamed him if he had left early.

It was not difficult to see why both teams are struggling in their respective leagues. Chivas de Guadalajara has made a poor start in Mexico and, eight games into the season, already is working under its second coach, Raul Arias.

Wednesday night's victory was the club's third in a row, however, so perhaps things are looking up.

Chivas USA, meanwhile, is languishing in fifth place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference and is counting on making the playoffs by winning the games it has in hand, not that there is any guarantee.

The first half produced one shot on goal, a less-than-sizzling effort by Chivas USA's Jesus Padilla that gave goalkeeper Luis Michel no trouble.

Padilla has played for both teams, so perhaps he felt it necessary to at least do something. No one else did, not even Guadalajara's highly touted Omar Bravo. The striker lasted 62 minutes but didn't take a shot on goal.

In fact, it was the oldest man on the field, Chivas USA defender Claudio Suarez, 40, who looked the liveliest until Arellano took charge and changed things.

The opening goal came in the 74th minute when Sergio Avila got in behind the defense. Goalkeeper Jon Conway, making his Chivas USA debut, was caught in two minds.

First, he left the net to challenge Avila, who was threatening the goal from the left. Then he changed his mind and retreated to guard the near post.

Avila cut the ball back to an unmarked Arellano, who steered it into the unguarded portion of the net. The defense was noticeable by its absence.

Five minutes later, Guadalajara doubled its lead.

This time Arellano set off on a run down the left wing, cut into the penalty area and fired a shot over Conway's left shoulder.

The fireworks and flares lighting up one end of the stadium showed that all was well again among the Chivas faithful. The parent club, that is, not its MLS offspring.

--

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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