Saturday’s 2-0 win over Seattle gives Chivas USA an early season four point edge over the rest of the league. (The Galaxy, incidentally, drew 1-1 up in Oakland with the San Jose Earthquakes and remain winless on the season. Bryan Jordan scored the second half equalizer after San Jose took a fifth-minute lead).
Here are a few bonus quotes I collected after the Chivas USA game (along with contributions from reporter Phil Collin).
*Here’s Chukwudi (which, by the way, means God is great in the language of his Nigerian parents) Chijindu or as we shall call him, Chucky, on the goal that as Preki put it “killed the game:
“It’s just one of those things, I guess, natural instinct. We both were on the same page. I tried to get across near post I saw him put the ball there and tried to get there before the defender does. I saw the defender and saw the little far post open. I could only get my toe on it, but it’s just enough and I’ll take any goals as they come.”
*Sacha Kljestan’s form has dropped off in the last few games, but it doesn’t sound as if he’s particularly bothered about it:
“I don’t really care how I play as long as the team wins. Playing the middle of the field is obviously comfortable and I had a lot of touches tonight.”
*Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid on what the Sounders were missing against Chivas USA:
“We were missing the final pass. We were missing our ability to sustain the attack. … It seemed like once our attack ended and they got the ball we had to go all the way back to our defensive third before we could attack again.”
*On conceding three goals in the last two games:
“That doesn’t concern me as much as not scoring in the last two games. … When I look at our team over the last 180 minutes we’ve only maybe conceded four chances, five chances. So now it’s a matter of not losing our concentration in key moments. But it’s not like we’re getting chance upon chance created against us and we’re struggling to hang on, but obviously we need we need to finish, we need to score goals.”
Alecko Eskandarian on the Sounders:
“From watching them I thought they were going to be better than what they were tonight. I watched all their games on TV and I was very impressed with what I had seen. Tonight, in the first half especially, I thought they showed glimpses of what they can do – they’re definitely a tough team, not to be taken lightly. But I thought we handled it pretty good – I was pretty impressed with our back line.”
On whether the team is surprised with the undefeated start to the season:
“No, we work really, really hard, …Every single day its a battle, it’s a fight. This is what we expect out of ourselves. If anything we felt we shouldn’t have got a tie last weekend, we should be 5-0. … Five games into the season no-one ever gets handed a trophy. As great as this is, that we’re building a little bit of a gap, there’s a long way to go.”
On how much the squad’s stability over the last two or three seasons has helped:
“If you look at the best teams in MLS and the teams that are having success year after year are the ones that keep a core group together and I think we have a big core from last year returning and that’s helped us a lot. While other teams are trying to get to get used to the style they’re going to play or players coming in and out I think we know exactly what everyone brings to the table. Some of the new guys know what their role is without us having to feel them out and know what’s expected of them. That’s been a huge advantage for us.”
Chivas USA 2 Seattle Sounders 0
Substitute Chukwudi Chijindu – Chuckie, as he’s known – poked home his first MLS goal in only his second MLS appearance, getting on the end of a Bojan Stepanovic cross for the second Chivas USA goal six minutes from the end of regulation. It was the first assist by the Serbian.
Two recent signings paid dividends for league leading and 4-0-1 Chivas USA before a crowd of 15,643.
Despite not having a single shot on target in the first half, Chivas USA has found a way to win yet again.
Chivas USA 1 Seattle Sounders 0
Seattle can feel slightly aggrieved to be behind on an unfortunate 32nd minute own goal from a Jonny Bornstein cross defender James Riley likely knew little about.
In truth Seattle had the better of the half and Chivas USA at times labored to get out of their own half.
Aside from the goal, Seattle had the two best chances of the game.
Fredy Montero lobbed Zach Thornton with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 10th minute, but the ball went wide of the post.
Just before half time Sebastien Le Toux couldn’t quite head a Nate Jaqua cross past Thornton from about two yards, the Chivas USA goalkeeper producing a fine instinctive save to bat the ball away.
Fittingly, the best Chivas USA move of the night was rewarded with a goal, albeit an own goal by Sounders defender James Riley.
The 32nd minute move featured a give and go by Sacha Kljestan and Eduardo Lillingtston and a final cross by Jonny Bornstein that Riley turned into his own net.
That’s only the second goal Seattle has given up this season.
Fifth game of the season, fifth different starting lineup of the year for Chivas USA in this clash of the MLS teams with the two best records coming into the weekend.
There’s about 50 traveling Sounders supporters here, borrowing the L.A. Riot Squad’s usual spot in the stands for the night.
There’s two changes to the Chivas USA starting lineup tonight: Alecko Eskandarian makes his first start of the year in attack, allowing Atiba Harris, who started up front the last two games, to slide back into midfield. Bojan Stepanovic makes his first MLS start in midfield, while Paulo Nagamura is suspended after his red card last week against the Galaxy. The odd man out is Gerson Mayen, who starts on the bench.
Chivas USA starting XI: Thornton, Trujillo, Talley, Thomas, Bornstein, Harris, Kljestan, Marsch, Stephanovic, Esklandarian, Lillingston.
No out and out attacker on the Chivas USA bench as the team continues to deal with its plague of injuries.
Former Galaxy defender Tyrone Marshall starts in defense for the Sounders, while former Galaxy forward Nate Jaqua partners Fredy Montero up front.
Former EPL star Freddie Ljungberg starts in midfield.
Both games begin at 7:30 p.m., the Chivas USA game at Home Depot Center against the Seattle Sounders on Prime, the Galaxy-San Jose Earthquakes match on FSN. I plan to blog from the Chivas USA game, so join me then.
Galaxy-San Jose Earthquakes Preview
*The Earthquakes are without dangerous striker Darren Huckerby for tonight’s game.
*Which is probably just as well since he sounds more interested in Sunday’s crucial derby and relegation clash with Ipswich Town against his former team Norwich City. (Full disclosure: so am I).
Chivas USA-Seattle Sounders Preview
I’d link to some previews of the game from Seattle, but the main conclusion of those I read today was that Chris Eyelander will return from injury and start in goal today and many of you read that here Friday.
*Speaking of re-runs: Here’s my preview of the game from Tuesday’s column.
*For the three of you out there who remember when Chivas USA Coach Preki was wowing MISL crowds at the Tacoma Dome back in the 1980s (frighteningly, since I was going to the UW at the time, I do) this story is for you.
*Here’s a few left-overs (or expanded comments from those that appeared in the column) from Seattle Coach Sigi Schmid and Chivas USA’s Carey Talley on today’s game.
-Schmid on the injuries Chivas USA has suffered:
“Sometimes as a coach I always feel it’s easier if players are out for a period of time because you sort of find a way to play. If a guy is in for a game, then out for a game, that’s much harder because you’re always changing your style. But Preki has done a good job — he knows he’s without guys like (Maykel) Galindo and (Ante) Razov and he’s had other guys step up like (Eduardo) Lillingston and Atiba Harris and (Justin) Braun before he got hurt so those guys are stepping up and doing the business. They know what they want to do on the field, they’re pretty disciplined in terms of their structure and their approach.”
-Schmid on the significance of returning to the HDC:
“It was definitely nice last season being able to win the championship in the HDC and Home Depot (Center) is one of the preeminent if not the preeminent soccer stadium in the country, so it’s hopefully always going to play a role (in my coaching career). (But) I like to win no matter where we go.”
-Talley on Chivas USA’s injuries:
“We’ve gotten such good practice from last year playing with injuries that if half our roster was injured at the beginning of the season we would have taken it in stride in the same way the way we are right now. There’s really been no surprises at us at all, we’re down a few guys – that’s really carried over into this season
“I think that’s been a lot easier for us to get over, while most teams might dwell on that and ‘say, well we’ve never really experienced this before’ and here we are saying, ‘y’know we went through this last season, we’ve got through it in the preseason, what are we going to do about it? We’re dealt these cards, lets get on with it.’ I’m really not surprised so much at the position were in … we’ve just been able to get on with it, take it in stride.”
-Talley on the role coaching has played in the team’s success:
“I would just say our coach, Preki, has done a fantastic job in identifying guys, putting them into roles that they would be comfortable with and putting them into a spot where they can succeed. Every team has the same talent level because of the parity in this league. I just think some teams have done a better job at the coaching side of it and putting together a game plan of ‘hey, this is what’s expected of you game in, game out, here’s what’s expected of you come Saturday. You do this, you believe in the team concept and we’ll get through it.’ I think that’s where Preki has done such a good job. The guy knows soccer, there’s no doubt about it, and how our team needs to operate and he’s been able to translate that from being a coach into explaining that to his players.”
As promised, here’s a look at who’s in and who’s out of this weekend’s games:
*The tight-lipped Galaxy organization aren’t telling all their secrets, but I was able to glean that striker Edson Buddle will not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against San Jose in Oakland because he’s still bothered by a quad strain that has kept him out of action since the season began. BTW, it takes Buddle a little longer than other players to come back from comparable injuries I was told today.
*Defender Todd Dunivant and young forward Tristan Bowen of Van Nuys are with the 18-man travel roster for the first time this season, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll see action, of course.
*Midfielder Dema Kovalenko, having completed his suspension, is on the squad; striker Alan Gordon and defender Gregg Berhalter are both suspended after their respective red cards last week.
Chivas USA –
*Not much new with Chivas USA for the showdown with Seattle at Home Depot Center Saturday since Burling, Jazic, Kennedy, Razov, Suarez, Vaughn and Victorine are all still out; neither Braun or Galindo are in full training, but are officially listed as doubtful.
*BTW, check out this little video with an unexpected star.
Chinese striker Han Duan won’t play Sunday in Carson against FC Gold Pride; she’s back in her homeland playing in the Chinese Provincial Games.
I’ll have more later on today about the Galaxy, Chivas USA and (hopefully) Seatlle Sounders’ injury issues after training.
It does, however, sound like Seattle Coach Sigi Schmid has first-choice back-up (yes, you read that right) goalkeeper Chris Eyelander available for the big game against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center.
Here’s a little preview from the Seattle Times this morning on the import of the game.
Meanwhile in the stupid coaching tricks department we apparently have North (Torrance) High School’s boys soccer coach Matt Chavez getting fired the same day he was named Daily Breeze Coach of the Year, CD Guadalajara Coach Omar Arellano receiving a pink slip after just 17 days on the job (and right before this weekend’s SuperClasico against Club America), while once and future Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre was formally introduced Thursday and immediately sought to downplay expectations by saying he was no Superman. Good luck with that tactic, Javier.
Finally, MLS gets under way early this weekend with a 4 p.m. game today between D.C. United (1-1-2) and New England (2-0-1) so those of you with fantasy soccer teams (he reminds self) get your starting lineups in order.
Here are your other (selected) options both on TV and live at Home Depot Center this weekend:
7:30 p.m. Saturday FSN San Jose-Galaxy
7:30 p.m. Saturday Prime Chivas USA-Seattle Sounders at the HDC
8 a.m. Sunday Fox Soccer Channel Everton-Manchester United (FA Cup semifinal)
11:30 a.m. Sunday FSC AC Milan-Torino
Noon Sunday KVEA CD Guadalajara-Club America
Noon Sunday Fox Sports Espanol Boca Juniors-River Plate
1 p.m. Sunday (no TV) L.A. Sol-F.C. Gold Pride at the HDC.