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Chivas USA earns 1-1 tie with Toronto FC

An early goal by Alejandro Moreno and a missed shot by Toronto's Maicon Santos help Chivas escape with a point.

April 02, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones
  • Chivas USA's Ante Jazic battles Toronto FC 's Tony Tchani,for possession of the ball in the first half Saturday.
Chivas USA's Ante Jazic battles Toronto FC 's Tony Tchani,for… (Chris Young / Associated…)

Three weeks into the Major League Soccer season, Chivas USA finally got out of the blocks on Saturday.

An early goal by Alejandro Moreno, some solid defending and a lot of luck allowed Coach Robin Fraser's team to escape Canada with a point after a 1-1 tie with Toronto FC.

"Without a doubt, I think a point on the road, you have to look at that and say you're satisfied with that," Fraser said.

Chivas had lost its first two matches of the MLS season to Kansas City and Colorado and was beaten by Portland on Tuesday night in U.S. Open Cup play.

But on a blustery afternoon the team began to show definite signs of progress. Statistically, Chivas had the edge. It outshot Toronto, 12-7 overall and 8-3 in shots on target, and earned four corner kicks to three for Toronto.

For much of the early going, or at least for the first half-hour, Chivas was the better team. It attacked in numbers, kept the offensive pressure on Toronto and harried Toronto whenever it gained possession of the ball.

The upbeat start was helped by Moreno's early goal, which came a mere 1:54 into the game, although it was officially recorded as being scored in the third minute.

A pass by forward Justin Braun into the Toronto penalty area was collected by teammate Jorge Flores, who shielded the ball well from a defender before Moreno, rushing in, directed a right-foot shot past Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Chivas had a couple of clear chances to widen the lead, and Braun should have done better with two gilt-edged opportunities but headed wide on both occasions.

"We probably could have done a little bit better with some of the chances we had," Fraser conceded.

Toronto Coach Aron Winter, a former Dutch international, was saying much the same thing.

As it was, Toronto tied the game in the 36th minute when forward Alan Gordon was allowed to make a run into the penalty area completely unmarked and crashed a header past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

The ball was sent in on a free kick by Jacob Peterson, and Gordon split would-be defenders Braun and Heath Pearce, the closest Chivas players to him.

Oddly enough, Gordon was traded to Toronto from Chivas in the off-season. Before scoring, he served warning of the aerial threat he poses when he hit the left post with another header, this one off a cross from the right by Javier Martina.

Toronto gradually gained control of the match and might have come away with the victory but for a glaring error by another former Chivas USA player, Maicon Santos.

The well-traveled Brazilian was put in the clear behind the Chivas defense by an excellent through pass. He had already drawn Kennedy out of the net and had unguarded teammate and fellow forward Alen Stevanovic to his left.

All Santos needed to do was slip the ball to Stevanovic and the Serbian forward could have steered it into the empty net.

Instead, Santos tried a shot just as a late challenge came in from Chivas defender Andrew Boyens and he scuffed the effort wide left, to the disbelief of the BMO Field crowd of 18,968 and his own embarrassment.

Toronto had made a significant trade just the day before the game, sending veteran Canadian international playmaker and four-time MLS champion Dwayne De Rosario to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for two players and a first-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.

De Rosario's absence might have contributed to Toronto's failure to win, with the team still adjusting to newly arrived Danleigh Borman and Tony Tchani, both of whom started.

More likely, though, Chivas USA's luck came not in De Rosario's absence but in Santos' extraordinary miscue.

Meanwhile, in another trade of note, FC Dallas on Friday acquired the rights to Cuban striker Maykel Galindo from Chivas USA in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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