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SOCCER

Goal near end of game causes Chivas USA to tie with New York

The Red Bulls tied the score late on a penalty kick. Chivas could have moved closer to Galaxy with a win.

September 27, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Seven minutes is not a long time, except on the soccer field.

Chivas USA found that out to its cost on Saturday night when it was only about seven minutes from moving into the Galaxy's rearview mirror in the Major League Soccer playoff race.

Sacha Kljestan had given Chivas the lead and Preki's team only had to see out the last few minutes to earn a 1-0 victory and close to within one point of the Galaxy in the West.

Then Juan Pablo Angel struck for the New York Red Bulls.

Chivas USA yielded a free kick out wide on the left, New York midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic floated the ball into the penalty area and Angel, splitting two Chivas defenders, headed it past Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton.

The goal came 83:35 into the match, which ended up 1-1, but not before one more bit of drama.

In injury time, a shot by Chivas forward Maykel Galindo struck New York defender Andrew Boyens on the arm. Referee Alex Prus, amid loud protests from the Red Bull players, pointed to the penalty spot.

Kljestan stepped up to take the kick. A victory and three points were only 12 yards away. But Kljestan skewed his kick wide of the left post and an almost audible groan went up from the Chivas bench, where a towel was thrown in disgust.

Players miss penalty kicks. It happens. But letting a victory escape against a team such as New York was difficult for the Chivas players to take. The Red Bulls came into the match with a 0-11-1 record on the road this season.

Chivas failed to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses. Preki's team ended up taking 18 shots to only four for the Red Bulls, but that statistic counted for nothing.

Wasted free kicks which soared wide or to opposing players, errant shots that sailed high or wide, attacking moves that foundered on the rocks of the offside trap, all these were hallmarks of the Chivas offense in the first hour.

Then things changed and Chivas suddenly found its feet.

Kljestan scored in the 64th minute when he made a surging run down the middle and then lifted a shot over New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul and into the net.

That sparked a flurry of scoring chances and Coundoul had to make a superb save to deny Chivas forward Maicon Santos.

Santos had signaled his intent when he slammed a shot into the crossbar off a Chivas fast break in the 74th minute.

Five minutes later, Kljestan dummied a free kick and Santos took the shot only to see Coundoul barely get across his net in time to deflect the ball away.

"It's disappointing," Preki said afterward. "We had so many opportunities to put the game away."

But it was Angel who changed the outcome. The goal was the Colombian striker's 46th for New York, making him the team's all-time-leading goal scorer in all competitions.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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