Toronto FC v Chivas USA PreviewBy: Sairax | March 31st, 2011
Conference: West Position: 8th
W-L-D: 0-2-0 (0 points, -2 goal differential)
Away Form: N/A
Recent Form: LL
Last Meeting: Chivas USA 3 Toronto FC 0 (Oct. 9, 2010)
Finally, TFC face a team that has been in MLS for more than a week. On Saturday, we will be hosting Chivas USA who are in their seventh MLS season. If the name “Chivas” rings a bell it’s because it is the nickname of the Mexican club C.D. Guadalajara. Both Chivas clubs have the same owner and Chivas Guadalajara is considered the parent club to Chivas USA.
Chivas USA has enjoyed success in the past under current USA head coach Bob Bradley and a certain Predrag Radosavljevic, who you may recognize as “Preki”, TFC’s coach last season before he was sacked along with our former
sith lord GM Mo Johnston. Bradley took Chivas to the playoffs in their second season after placing 3rd in the Western Conference. Preki took over for Chivas’ third season where he led the Rojiblancos to a 1st place finish in the Western Conference. They went on to the playoffs, but failed to advance past the conference semis.
Recently, things have not been as rosy for Chivas. They failed to make the playoffs last season and ended up finishing dead last in the Western Conference with 28 points and a -14 goal difference. Only DC United had a worse record in the 2010 season (22 points, -26 goal difference). The last time we played them at BMO was way back in August 2010 when Preki faced his old team for the first time since he left them with a squad in much need of repair. That day saw Chad Barrett score along with Nana Attakora who scored a goal after a classic Delap-style long throw from Dan Gargan that we actually used to good effect for once. Chivas managed to gain a penalty after Adrian Cann got called for a handball in the box. They scored with their chance, but the game ended 2-1 in our favour. Stefan Frei had a Man of the Match performance after making several great saves to keep our butts in the game (a recurring theme in 2010) and Maicon Santos got to face his old team after leaving for Toronto with Preki. He ended up going off injured early in the second half, which, incidentally, was another recurring theme in 2010.
Things were good then for our beloved Reds. We were on an unbeaten streak and Prekiball was working its tedious magic. As you know, the season ended up unraveling into chaos and we even ended up losing 3-0 to Chivas at the Home Depot Centre in October under interim manager Nick Dasovic. (Wow, how many prepositions did I manage to shove into that last sentence? English teachers beware!) This season we are trying to change our fortunes and so are Chivas. They just announced this past week that Robin Fraser has officially been handed the role of Head Coach. He will be Chivas’ sixth coach in seven years. Sounds like another team we know. If we weren’t already similar enough, we even did some transfer business with them when we traded Nick Labrocca for Alan Gordon before the start of the season.
“The Goats” unloaded a few big names in the offseason including American international Jonathan Bornstein and the aforementioned Gordon. Coach Fraser wants to bring things back-to-basics with Chivas and keep things simple while strengthening key areas such as defense. He’s brought in veterans like Heath Pearce and Jimmy Conrad to solidify the backline, however, Conrad is currently out injured which is a big blow for them. They will also be missing Paulo Nagamura in the midfield. It seems the Goats’ injury problems of last season seem to be haunting them again. They also have had their young, up-and-coming players away with the US U20 National Team. They may be getting back their most promising defender, Zarek Valentin, from the National squad, but they are still looking pretty thin at the back, which is good news for us.
Up front for Chivas will likely be Justin Braun who was their top scorer last season with 9 goals. He was struggling with injury in preseason, so he might not be in top form, but he is still their likeliest threat going forward. Other players to look out for will be Alejandro Moreno, who was with his national team Venezuela this past week and scored a goal against Jamaica, and Blair Gavin, who may or may not play after picking up an injury in Chivas’ last match. It should be noted that Chivas have lost both of their games so far this season, and both of those games were at home. If they have that kind of record after two games at home, I have to think they won’t be much better away from home. On top of all that, in their opening matches against Sporting Kansas and Colorado they conceded 4 goals and only scored 2, and both of those goals were scored by defenders in their season opener. On Tuesday, the rojiblancos lost away, 2-0 to Portland Timbers in a US Open Cup qualifier. Basically, 2011 hasn’t treated them much better than 2010 and this is a great opportunity for us to grab another three points at home against a weak team while we are still finding our feet.
Last week we picked up a great result at home against Portland Timbers by scoring two great goals and keeping a clean sheet. We’re now up against a team that’s been around for a while in MLS, but has gotten off to a terrible start and is looking vulnerable. Most of our key players are fit and ready to go this week so our chances of winning are pretty good as long as we don’t do anything too stupid and Frei comes up with a couple of those match-winning saves that he manages to rustle up each game. As usual, here’s my best guess at a starting lineup for the Reds:
Frei Gargan-Cann-Harden-Morgan Peterson-DeRo-Stevanovic Martina-Gordon-Maicon Bench: Kocic, Attakora, Omphroy, Cordon, Williams, Zavarise, Sturgis
Bench: Kocic, Attakora, Omphroy, Cordon, Williams, Zavarise, Sturgis
I’ll be honest, I’m doing a lot of guesswork here based on who has already started this season and who seems to be doing well so far. Frei is a no-brainer in net. I put Cann and Harden in the centre of defense simply because we are not completely sure if Nana will be fit enough to start. If he is, expect him to be in the starting eleven in place of Harden. Gargan is in purely for lack of options, though Winter may opt for new signing Dicoy Williams, but I am not sure if he has experience at rightback. Yourassowsky is suspended after picking up 2 yellows against Portland so TFC Academy product, Ashtone Morgan, gets his chance to start and show us what he’s got. DeRo and Peterson seem to have solidified their spots, but Sturgis has struggled to make an impact so I put him on the bench for Stevanovic. Up front I suspect we will see Maicon or Gordon up front with one of them playing on the wing and Martina playing in the other wide role. That’s a hell of a lot of attack on the pitch, so now that I think about it, I’m probably quite off in my predictions, but we’ll see. We definitely need to see some better ball retention in the middle of the park. Julian isn’t expected to be back until mid-April, so the players we field until then need to show some improvement. We can score goals with this team, but our defense is still shaky and prone to sitting to deep and not moving the ball out from the back quickly enough. We also tend to be exposed on quick counterattacks. These are all things that should make for an entertaining yet nerve-wracking afternoon!
I’m doing my best to juggle two blogs at once (I also write for Arsenal Offside), but I will be calling in reinforcements this weekend in the form of Saurabh from Hoffenheim Offside who will write up the review from the game.
Toronto FC v Chivas USA will be broadcast on TSN Live at 1:00pm ET
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