By TYLER DAY
For Chivas USA it’s all about respect. With more results like Sunday, the team won’t have any trouble earning it.
Chivas broke open a tied game with three goals in the final 20 minutes to register a 4-1 thrashing of the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Sunday. The win improved the Goats to 2-1-1 and into moved them into a tie for 2nd in the Western Conference.
“It feels awesome to get a little bit more respect,” said Juan Agudelo, who delivered a goal and assist in the triumph. “This team works harder than any team I’ve ever been on.”
The game was up for grabs until the 73rd minute, when Joaquin Velasquez put in header from an Edgar Mejia cross to make it 2-1.
The Fire then had to chase the game, which opened up their defense that had been strong until that point.
Two minutes after the Velasquez goal, Agudelo settled a long ball from Jorge Villafana, out-muscled Fire captain Jeff Larentowicz for position, and guided a shot into the right corner to make the game 3-1.
“I thought it was huge our third goal,” Agudelo said. “It gave us a lot of space to finish off the game.”
Paolo Tornaghi, who was caught in between on Agudelo’s goal, started in goal for the Fire in place of Sean Johnson, who is currently with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Things went from bad to worse for the Fire when defender Jalil Anibaba put in a deflected own goal in the 89th minute to make the final score 4-1 to Chivas.
”To score four goals is just a game changer,” said Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. “It makes other teams respect you and be more defensive minded against you and that’s important for us.”
After an opening day 3-0 pummeling at Columbus, Chivas has rolled off seven points in its last three contests. It took the team 10 games last season to reach seven points.
“Everybody is so new it’s important to get off on the right foot and build team chemistry together on the field and that’s what we’re doing,” added Kennedy.
For the Fire, Sunday’s loss drops them to 0-3-1, the team’s worst start in franchise history.
The team did manage to score its first goal of the season when Patrick Nyarko was put through by Sherjill MacDonald in the 64th minute and it looked for a moment that it would propel the Fire to more.
MacDonald, who has been disappointing to this point this season, was significantly better on Sunday.
And like the team’s home opener two weeks ago vs. New England, the Fire controlled possession and had more shots on goal. But they were again unable to put away early chances and Chivas made the most of its opportunities.
The Fire will have a week off to regroup before they play host to the New York Red Bulls on April 7. Both teams will surely be desperate for a win.
Chivas will be back in action next Saturday as the team will try to keep its promising season going at home vs. Vancouver.
“The last half of last season didn’t go the way we wanted,” said Kennedy, “but fortunately enough of the guys that are still here from that group have moved on and everyone else that is new didn’t experience that.
“We’re looking to move forward with this and we know we still have a long way to go.”
Here are the match highlights: