By VINCE MADURI
There weren’t many people in the stands at Home Depot Center on Saturday night, but those Chivas USA fans that did make it out to watch the biggest surprise in Major League Soccer were treated to yet another impressive showing by a team that is looking more and more like the real thing rather than a fluke.
A pair of first-half goals, including an eventual Eric Avila game-winner gave Chivas USA a lead they were able to hold onto on their way to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Avila volleyed a Jorge Villafana cross past Joe Cannon in the 55th minute, which at the time put Chivas USA ahead 2-0. Kenny Miller pulled one back for the Whitecaps when he headed home a rebounded Erik Hurtado shot in the second half, but the Whitecaps were unable to find an equalizer.
One missed opportunity that will have the Whitecaps reeling came in the 90th minute when Miller sprung Kekuta Menneh free on goal as Chivas played far too high a line, leaving space behind for the rookie to exploit. However, Menneh took a very heavy touch which allowed Kennedy to get out and contest the forward as he took the shot. The keeper did enough to make Menneh shoot wide and out of play for a goal kick.
Dynamic forward Darren Mattocks was not without his opportunities to equalize either, as the Jamaican had one instance in the 84th minute to get on the end of a free kick but could not connect cleanly initially. The rebound fell to Mattocks’ foot but the forward sent the ball high and out of play.
Carlos Alvarez had scored his second of the season which had put Chivas ahead 1-0 in the first half when the rookie made a nice run toward the corner of the box and decided to test the goalkeeper with a shot which deflected off of Whitecaps defender Jun Marques Davidson in the 12th minute. The goal was initially ruled an own goal but later was deemed a bit harsh and changed to credit Alvarez.
Juan Agudelo went down with an apparent hamstring injury early on the contest and was immediately subbed out for Jose Correa. Chivas have yet to announce the official details of the injury or its severity.
Possession numbers finished in favor of Vancouver at 52%. The Whitecaps also had the advantage in the shots department with 22 but only six of those were on target.
Here are the match highlights: