Los Angeles Galaxy wasted a golden opportunity to bridge the gap between themselves and the Western Conference play-off spots when they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
In front of their home fans, Galaxy got off to flying start when Chicharito got on the end of a terrific ball from Victor Vazquez to put him through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and he made no mistake with his finish hard and low across the goal.
It was Chicharito’s 200th club goal of his career, and his 33rd for Galaxy after arriving at the club in 2020.
That would be the only goal of the first half, but a penalty to Sporting in the 67th minute changed the complexion of the contest, with Johnny Russell equalising.
The visiting Kansas City side would have liked their chances of escaping with all three points after Felipe Hernandez gave them the lead in the 76th minute, but there would be another twist in the tale as Galaxy were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes.
Chicharito stepped up to the spot and tucked away his penalty high into the top-left corner of the goal, giving him 14 in 26 games this campaign, and he had a chance to make it 15 when there was another penalty given in stoppage time.
Trying to secure his hattrick and the match, Chicharito opted for the audacious panenka penalty, but was left red-faced as John Pulskamp in the Sporting goals did not flinch, catching it easily.
John Pulskamp read the mind of Chicharito.
Denied the hat trick and stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot. pic.twitter.com/Ov6zbnOiyh
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 5, 2022
Elsewhere in California, Los Angeles FC had a much easier time in their 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake to strengthen their position atop the Western Conference standings.
After a scoreless first half, LAFC were dominant after the break, with Ryan Hollingshead finding the back of the net in the 49th minute and Cristian Arango doubling the advantage in the 68th.
Carlos Vela also missed a penalty for the home side in stoppage time, but his side were good value for their win, producing 3.16 expected goals compared to just 0.29 for Salt Lake.
The win moves LAFC nine points clear of the chasing pack in the West, while at the other end of the standings, Houston Dynamo were bumped down to the bottom after a 2-1 loss away against the Seattle Sounders.
It was Houston striking first, with Daniel Steres breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute, and that score would hold until Nouhou Tolo’s equaliser in the 59th.
A missed penalty from Nicolas Lodeiro in the 75th minute appeared to be Seattle’s wasted chance to secure all three points in front of their home fans, but less than a minute later a terrific cross from Tolo found Fredy Montero at the back post the head in the winner.
The legend Fredy Montero gives us the 2-1 lead!!!!! pic.twitter.com/N821CC9Saz
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 5, 2022
With Houston losing again, the San Jose Earthquakes took the opportunity to shed the last-placed tag with a 2-0 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps, thanks to first half goals from Jeremy Ebobisse and Jamiro Monteiro.
Despite only owning 35 per cent of the possession and finishing with 0.36 expected goals, New England Revolution treated their fans to an emphatic 3-0 home win against New York City, with Jon Bell, 17-year-old Noel Buck and Thomas McNamara providing the scores.
In the highest scoring game of the day, CF Montreal came away with a 4-3 win despite two goals from Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne.
The Portland Timbers took advantage of two penalties to defeat Atlanta United 2-1, and DC United fought out the only 0-0 draw of the day against the Colorado Rapids, with Christian Benteke missing a penalty for DC.