Toronto FC did more than drop the opener of a critical three-game road trip on Saturday night. They also put themselves at a disadvantage for their next match.
Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored his first two goals of the Major League Soccer season in the 32nd minute and 52nd minute for a 2-0 victory, dealing Toronto its fifth loss in 10 road contests this season.
If that wasn't enough of an emotional blow, midfielder Carl Robinson and defender Adrian Serioux drew yellow cards and will serve one-game suspensions when the Reds visit the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 29 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3:30 p.m. ET).
The Reds were already without captain Jim Brennan through suspension for Saturday's tilt in Los Angeles after the defender picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last week's 2-0 home win over D.C. United.
Despite the loss, third-place Toronto remains in a wild-card position in the East standings with an 8-8-6 record for 30 points. D.C. United, which played L.A. Galaxy to a scoreless draw earlier Saturday, has 29 points.
In the West, Chivas USA (10-7-3) and Seattle each have 32 points, followed by Colorado at 30.
The top two teams in each conference — currently Columbus, Chicago, Houston and L.A. — will earn automatic berths while the next four teams in the standings, regardless of conference, earn wild-card berths.
Toronto finds itself in prime position to secure its first playoff berth since entering the league as an expansion franchise in 2007.
But the Reds were off their game defensively early on and caught standing around on the first goal of the game.
Chivas' Maykel Gallindo got loose inside the visitors' box and forced a corner kick. A strong effort by Jesse Marsch kept the ball in play and then the 13-year veteran delivered a strong cross to Gallindo, who headed a shot on goal. The ball bounced toward Kljestan, who easily knocked it across the goal line.
Toronto is now 1-8-3 on the season when allowing the first goal.
The Reds' defence was exposed in the second half when Maicon Santos slid a beautiful pass through two defenders to Kljestan, who beat keeper Stefan Frei on a shot to the far corner.
Frei, who turned aside four of Chivas' six shots that reached the net, kept it a two-goal game at the 86-minute mark with a huge save from the top of the box.
Lance Parker turned aside the lone Toronto shot on goal. He started in place of Zach Thornton, who is nursing a right quadriceps injury.
Defenders Marvell Wynne and Nick Garcia returned to the Toronto lineup after missing the D.C. game because of injuries.