Preview: Chivas, DC battle for playoff positioning at HDC
Chivas USA continue their homestand when they play host to D.C. United on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center in a massive game for both clubs’ playoff ambitions. It’s the first of two meetings in 11 days for the clubs, who each have 31 points, just one point outside the final playoff spot. Chivas have lost back-to-back games, by 1-0 scorelines, to Portland and Real Salt Lake, while United return to action after a 1-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City.
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REFEREE: Elias Bazakos. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 19 games; FC/gm: 26.3; Y/gm: 2.7; R: 4; pens: 2
INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA – OUT: MF Paulo Nagamura (R foot); DF Heath Pearce (hamstring); PROBABLE: GK Dan Kennedy (R groin strain); MF Simon Elliott (L quad/R groin strain); FW Laurent Courtois (R knee) …
D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Branko Boskovic (L ACL tear); DF Dejan Jakovic (R hamstring strain); DF Jed Zayner (L knee sprain); DOUBTFUL: GK Steve Cronin (R shoulder strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Josh Wolff (L hip flexor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHV: Zarek Valentin
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHV: Justin Braun, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Lahoud, Ben Zemanski … DC: Austin da Luz, Charlie Davies, Dwayne De Rosario, Brandon McDonald, Ethan White
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Chivas USA 4 wins, 17 goals … United 6 wins, 19 goals … Ties 2
AT CHIVAS (6 meetings): Chivas USA 2 wins, 9 goals … United 2 wins, 9 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 9/21: D.C. United vs. Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m.
5/29: DC 3, CHV 2 (Najar 26; Cristman 76; Talley 90 – Braun 16; Galindo 80)
8/29: CHV 1, DC 0 (Braun 13)
• The game is the first of two meetings in 11 days between the clubs, in what will have a vital impact on the MLS Cup Playoffs race.
• After winning the first five meetings all-time between the clubs, United has defeated Chivas USA just once since – a 3-2 win in Washington last year. Chivas USA have won four of the last seven meetings, with two draws.
• After winning on their first two trips to The Home Depot Center to face Chivas USA, United have not won there since, losing two and drawing two.
• D.C. won at home vs. Chivas USA last year for the first time since 2007, Chivas winning back-to-back visits to RFK Stadium after United won the first three encounters there.
• Coaches record: Robin Fraser vs. DC: first game … Ben Olsen v CHV: first game
Chivas USA suffered a second consecutive loss by a 1-0 scoreline in their last match, a defeat by Real Salt Lake on Aug. 28 at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA have 31 points from 27 games on the season, in seventh place in the Western Conference.
• The game's lone goal came after 11 minutes. RSL striker Álvaro Saborío raced onto a poor back pass and went in alone on goal, rounding Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and easily sliding the ball into the empty net.
• Real played the final 66 minutes a man down. Nick LaBrocca took a nifty through ball and nearly went in alone on goal, but just outside the area he was brought down by trailing RSL center back Nat Borchers, who was immediately shown red by referee Kevin Stott.
• Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made five changes to the team that fell to a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. David Junior Lopes came in for Michael Lahoud in the back, Simon Elliott, Blair Gavin and Jorge Flores came into the midfield for Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski and Laurent Courtois, and Juan Pablo Angel started up top for Marcos Mondaini.
• CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy - Michael Umana (Mariano Trujillo 46), Heath Pearce (Laurent Courtois 61), David Junior Lopes, Ante Jazic - Simon Elliott (Marcos Mondaini 72) - Blair Gavin, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores - Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno.
• Chivas USA lost for a second successive match by a 1-0 scoreline, their fifth attacking shutout in the last nine games. They’ve scored eight goals in that time.
• “Really the only thought is that you can’t be up a man for that long and not score a goal. So that’s the story of the game (vs. RSL),” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. “I thought we were pretty decent the first half, energy was really good, we won the ball back a lot on their end of the field, were very aggressive, and as a result we created a number of very good scoring opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on.”
• There was another blow during the contest when Heath Pearce went down with a hamstring injury that was not caused by contact. Pearce said he hopes to be able to return by the end of the month.
• “The MRI said four to six [weeks out], but I think it’s going to be on the short side of that,” said Pearce. “I feel like this is a minor injury and it will be on the short side of the window, if not shorter.
• The match against United starts a stretch of five matches in September against four teams all of which are currently outside the top 10 teams and places in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
• “I think we need to find a way to get four wins,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “It’s very doable. September is going to be a very important month for us.”
• After this weekend, Chivas USA hit the road for games at Chicago and D.C. United – their final two regular-season games away from The Home Depot Center. Their last “road” match is Oct. 16 against the LA Galaxy; they play host to Toronto FC. (Sept. 24), Philadelphia (Oct. 2) and Seattle (Oct. 22).
• “What it is, is reality, we’ve missed opportunities to get points at home early on, in the middle of the year and now in the final stretch,” striker Alejandro Moreno said. “If we want to make a run and we’re serious about making a run, then we need to get points. It’s simple math, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.”
• With the roster freeze deadline approaching, Chivas USA waived club original Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza, who rejoined the club at the start of this season after a stint in Mexico. Mendoza had made 11 appearances this season, just two in the first XI.
• “We just felt like it was time for us to go in a different direction,” said Fraser. “With us, we’re trying to make things as tight as possible at the end of the season and I got the impression that he wasn’t happy.”
• Alejando Moreno played 68 minutes for Venezuela in 2-1 friendly win against Guinea on Tuesday.
• Michael Umaña started and played 90 minutes for Costa Rica in their friendly victory against the USA at The Home Depot Center last Friday. He then played 90 minutes in the 4-0 friendly loss to Ecuador on Tuesday.
• Ante Jazic started and played all 90 minutes for Canada in their 4-1 win against Saint Lucia in a World Cup qualifier last Friday.
D.C. United saw their unbeaten streak come to an end at four games, falling to a 1-0 defeat by Sporting Kansas City on Sunday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. United have 31 points from 24 games on the year, sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
• The game's lone goal came after 19 minutes. Omar Bravo’s cross was cleared out of the penalty area, but Kei Kamara tracked down the ball and unleashed an unstoppable blast on the half-volley from just outside the box that goalkeeper Joe Willis could only watch.
• United coach Ben Olsen made four changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Joe Willis came back in between the posts for Bill Hamid, Santino Quaranta came back into the midfield for Stephen King, and Blake Brettschneider and Josh Wolff were an all-change strike pair, in place of Charlie Davies and Dwayne De Rosario.
• D.C. UNITED (4-1-3-2): Joe Willis - Perry Kitchen, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard (Joseph Ngwenya 80) - Clyde Simms - Andy Najar, Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius - Blake Brettschneider (Dwayne De Rosario 46), Josh Wolff (Marc Burch 65).
• United return to action after having their home game against Portland, scheduled for Aug. 27, postponed because of Hurricane Irene. The game has been rescheduled for Wed., Oct. 19.
• United saw their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end in the loss in Kansas City – their first loss away from RFK Stadium since a 4-1 defeat in Seattle, going seven away games without defeat (3-0-4).
• “It’s one of those days, it was always going to be a tough task to come here and get a point. We had some good chances toward the end, but give them credit,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “They know what they’re doing at home, they come at you, they punch you right in the face in the beginning and if you’re not prepared for it, they usually get a goal.”
• In his first eight appearances after coming to United from New York, Dwayne De Rosario had played all but six minutes. But after playing the full match three nights earlier in Chicago, he was held off until halftime in KC.
• “He’s not 22 anymore. He’s been putting us on his back for a couple weeks and I wanted to be smart with him and I think he did a good job in the second half when he came in. I think Dwayne will tell you he looked a little tired towards the end too,” said Olsen. “I appreciate all of the guys’ effort today, in particular in the second half. I just wish we would have been a little smarter on how we went about the game, a little bit more savvy on what the game needed.”
• With goalkeeper Bill Hamid sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in Chicago, rookie Joe Willis was once again called upon to don the gloves, ahead of Steve Cronin, eight days after making his MLS debut with a 4-0 shutout of Vancouver.
• “After the first one, I got the nerves out of my system and had a lot of confidence going into this game and it felt good,” Willis said.
• Returning to the lineup after a three-month absence due to a concussion, Santino Quaranta recorded assists in three consecutive games before the streak was snapped in Kansas City. “When you’re fighting with a team like this you always want to get something out of the game, and we didn’t,” said Quaranta.
• The defeat dropped United a point behind the wild card cut line with nine weeks still left in the campaign. But they are just four points out of the top three spots in the Eastern Conference. United now face a final week of the season where they will play three games.
• “This is not an easy loss to take. It’s a tough one. That’s an Eastern Conference team that we were basically in the same spot [as], and now it’s a six-point swing,” said Chris Pontius.
• Dwayne De Rosario scored as Canada got their World Cup qualifying campaign started on the right foot in a 4-1 win against Saint Lucia. He played 90 minutes in Canada’s 3-0 win against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, also a qualifying match.
• Andy Najar made his international debut Saturday against Colombia at Red Bull Arena, coming on in the 70th minute in Honduras’ 2-0 loss. He then played 45 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Paraguay at midweek.