Nick LaBrocca, right, celebrates his late goal with Chivas teammate Victor… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
After more than an hour of eyelid-closing soccer, Chivas USA woke up a Wednesday night crowd with two goals in 20 minutes. Chivas midfielder Ben Zemanski provided the first alarm, and before the 9,425 at the Home Depot Center could hit the snooze button too many times, midfielder Nick LaBrocca added another goal to seal a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
"There have been times when we've played better than we did tonight and come away with nothing to show for it," Chivas Coach Robin Fraser said. "On a night when we didn't start playing our best, I thought we ended up playing well and getting some chances."
Chivas forward Justin Braun found Zemanski open about 30 yards out from the goal in the 64th minute. With no defenders closing in on him, Zemanski wound up and unleashed a hard shot with his right foot. Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch had strayed a bit too far to his right, and his subsequent dive fell inches short. Zemanski had come onto the field as a substitute for midfielder Jorge Flores six minutes earlier.
"I knew when Justin was dribbling across the middle, their back four was dropping off," Zemanski said. "I was able to take a touch for it, take a look at goal and realized I could hit it. Fortunately it went in."
Keeping with the theme of subs-as-heroes, Chivas midfielder Francisco Mendoza subbed for Blair Gavin in the 73rd minute, and 11 minutes later he found LaBrocca streaking through the Earthquakes defense. Mendoza hit LaBrocca in stride and LaBrocca sent the suspense-killing goal past Busch.
"It was a great buildup," LaBrocca said of the sequence that began with defender Michael Lahoud passing to Mendoza. "Francisco saw the angle perfectly and put it in there on the ground and I was able to take my touch forward and go."
Chivas (5-7-6) snapped a four-match winless streak and jumped over San Jose (5-6-6) in the Western Conference standings as the Earthquakes lost both of the teams' head-to-head matchups this season.
"Win number five, in our opinion, has been a long time coming," Fraser said. "It's a good milestone for us, especially coming off the last number of games."