Chivas USA-Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. Prime
The Goats: Heading off a cliff or on to a new era? (Daily Breeze file photo).
After Chivas USA’s 8-18-4 record last year and just five goals in three victories in nine preseason games these are legitimate questions.
But rookie Coach Robin Fraser is acutely aware of the limitations of his squad and has moved to mitigate (staunch?) the weaknesses.
That means stocking up on midfielders (hello Nick LaBrocca, who joins 11 others on the squad) in a bid to clog up the midfield and slow attackers from even reaching the overhauled defense.
He dispensed with suspect players of questionable quality (Alan Gordon, Dario Delgado, Jesus Padilla) and added wily veteran MLS minds in Jimmy Conrad, Alejandro Moreno and Simon Elliott.
And there are no indications Fraser is yet done reshaping his herd, um roster; young midfielder Cesar Zamora was waived a couple of days ago
Will it be enough?
Can the legs of these veterans hold up over 90 minutes let alone a longer than ever 34-game MLS season.
And who will score for Chivas USA?
“We’re going to find out what kind of club we’re going to be,” Conrad said in a lengthy conversation Friday with three journalists (it’s not often a player just hangs out and riffs on the past, present and future of MLS and the team these days) after a lunchtime press conference previewing the game.
Conrad wasn’t surprised when informed Soccer American had ranked the Chivas USA offense as the third worst in the league, ahead of only Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps:
“That probably goes right in line with how our preseason results have been going so until we prove otherwise we shouldn’t expect anything different. I think we have a better team and offense than people are giving us credit for.
“Every game that we’ve been playing we’ve been creating (scoring) opportunities. .. It will come, I’m not really worried about it. Where I start getting worried as a defender is when you don’t create chances at all. That’s when you’re in ‘oh, shit’ mode. That’s when you start to get worried.”
Conrad said he’s been passing onto Fraser scouting tips about the club he spent eight seasons with:
“I wrote down basic set pieces, how they like to move, where they like to create space, how they like to get at you, where they create numerical advantages,” he said.
Of course, his former teammates may well try to exploit how he tends to play as well:
“I think they know what my strengths and weaknesses are. … I’ve been known as a guy that likes to play out of situations that maybe I shouldn’t so they’ll try to bait me into that kind of stuff. I’ll just take the simple route and go from there.
“The flip side of it is they only know one of me and I know about 11 of them inside and out so I think I would win in the numbers game.”
*Reporter Phil Collin assesses the season ahead for Chivas USA.
*Here’s the Kansas City perspective.