New England Soccer Today

Giving up the Goat

CARSON, Calif. – The New England Revolution’s waning playoff hopes were dealt a severe – if not fatal – blow Friday night, as Chivas USA captured a comprehensive 2-0 victory at the Home Depot Center.

Justin Braun scored in the 6th minute and Paulo Nagamura fired another through in the 36th minute to give the Goats a lead that could have been doubled had it not been for the acrobatic saves of Revolution keeper Matt Reis.

Chivas wasted no time in commanding the match, as Braun and Ben Zemanski speared into New England territory before the traditionally late arriving L.A. fans found their seats. And less than seven minutes after the opening whistle, the Goats capitalized on a golden opportunity when Alan Gordon put through a perfect ball to Braun, who pounded it past Reis for the early Chivas lead.

The scenario was all too familiar for the Revolution. Having played from behind more often than not this season, the guests attempted to regroup and reply to the early Goats goal. They sent numbers ahead, and the backs joined in, ready to offer support.

But in pressing forward, they left themselves alarmingly vulnerable on the wings, where Rodolfo Espinoza and Michael Lahoud exploited the Revolution’s obvious desperation to dig up the equalizer with a series of serious glances on goal.

Even Matt Reis couldn't save the Revs on Friday. (Photo by Art Donahue/

It wasn’t long before the Revolution’s approach stalled, as the attack became predictable, which allowed the Goats to reclaim possession and send their opponents back into the shadow of their own goal.

Although a series of red and white surges crashed onto the Revolution’s shores, the Goats lead remained at a single goal for half an hour until Lahoud sent a ball forward to Alan Gordon, who decisively tapped it back to Nagamura in front of the area, where the midfielder blasted an 18-yard missle to make it 2-0 less than ten minutes before the half.

Stunned and seeking a sorely needed score, Revolution manager Steve Nicol employed a series of tactical changes. He benched defender Emmanuel Osei, added Khano Smith to the midfield, and substituted Sainey Nyassi for an ineffective Kheli Dube on the right in order to give his side a 3-5-2 look for the second half.

However, the changes succeeded in accomplishing absolutely nothing. Chivas continuted to terrorize the Revolution, and very nearly made it 3-0 when Gordon directed a powerful header right on frame that Reis quickly denied in the 47th minute.

While Chivas extended their domination through much of the half, New England nearly halved it in the 57th minute when Shalrie Joseph lofted a looping ball ahead to an advancing Pat Phelan, who toed it on frame where Zach Thornton easily smothered it.

Shortly thereafter, the Goats resumed their rule over the roost. As the home side made encamped themselves in front of the New England net, Reis was tested often, but managed to keep a clean sheet for the second half.

One final chance to save face and avoid the shut out arrived in 85th minute. Chris Tierney lined up a free kick deep in the Chivas section of the park and sent a laser into a sea of players before Zach Thornton towered above everyone and easily recovered it, as the Revolution’s playoff chances disappeared into the dark L.A. night.

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