Preview: Chivas, TFC cling to postseason hopes at HDC

Two clubs in a desperate bid to stay alive in the chase for MLS Cup Playoffs berths meet at The Home Depot Center on Saturday evening when Chivas USA entertain Toronto FC. Chivas put an end to a four-game losing slide at midweek, coming away from D.C. United with a 2-2 draw that left them five points out of the final wild card spot. Toronto FC are coming off back-to-back wins in league play for the first time this season, last a 2-1 home win against Colorado.

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REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Brian Poeschel; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Geoff Gamble
MLS Career: 209 games; FC/gm: 25.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 57; pens: 43

INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA – OUT: MF Paulo Nagamura (R foot); PROBABLE: DF Heath Pearce (hamstring) …

TORONTO FC – OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); MF Joao Plata (L hamstring strain); MF Oscar Cordon (R hip flexor); DOUBTFUL: DF Demitrius Omphroy (R knee swelling)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHV: Michael Lahoud, Zarek Valentin, Ben Zemanski … TOR: Danleigh Borman
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHV: Justin Braun, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Umaña … TOR: Julian de Guzman, Terry Dunfield, Ty Harden, Ryan Johnson, Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 6 goals … Chivas USA 6 wins, 16 goals … Ties 1
AT CHIVAS USA (4 meetings): Chivas USA 4 wins, 9 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
•    In the first meeting this season, Alejandro Moreno put Chivas ahead after two minutes but Alan Gordon equalized before halftime, the teams sharing the points in a 1-1 draw, April 2 at BMO Field.
•    TFC has lost all four games at Chivas USA. The Reds have been shut out in three of those meetings; they have not scored in their last 240 minutes vs. Chivas at The Home Depot Center.
•    Chivas USA won on their first two trips to BMO Field, but Toronto FC won the next two meetings in Canada before the draw this year.
•    Coaches record: Aron Winter v CHV: P1 W0 L0 T1 … Robin Fraser vs. TOR: P1 W0 L0 T1

LAST MEETING (MLS)
4/2: TOR 1, CHV 1 (Gordon 36 – Moreno 2)
•    Chivas USA took just two minutes to jump into the lead. Chivas midfielder Jorge Flores pushed into the TFC area, but his shot was blocked. But Alejandro Moreno was first to the loose ball, pivoting around Nana Attakora and poking the ball home past a charging Stefan Frei.
•    But the home side pulled even nine minutes before the halftime break when Alan Gordon was left unmarked in the box and easily headed in Jacob Peterson’s freekick from the left side.
•    TORONTO FC (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei – Ty Harden, Nana Attakora (Dicoy Williams 65), Adrian Cann, Danleigh Borman – Jacob Peterson (Julian de Guzman 46), Tony Tchani – Maicon Santos – Javier Martina, Alan Gordon, Alen Stevanovic (Joao Plata 70)
•    CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy – Michael Lahoud, Andrew Boyens, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic - Ben Zemanski – Nick LaBrocca, Marcos Mondaini (Gerson Mayen 67), Jorge Flores – Alejandro Moreno, Justin Braun (Victor Estupinan 86).

CHIVAS USA
Chivas USA put an end to their losing streak at four games, coming back for a 2-2 draw with D.C. United on Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium. Chivas USA have 32 points from 30 games on the season, in seventh place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    United broke through for the opener in the 39th minute. Andy Najar’s curled free kick from just outside the area on the right found the head of Dwayne De Rosario, who glanced it past a sprawling Dan Kennedy in the Chivas goal.
•    Two minutes after the second-half restart, United doubled their advantage. De Rosario deflected a Santino Quaranta corner kick on goal, and while Kennedy got a hand to it, D.C. defender Ethan White was on hand to tap the ball home.
•    Chivas pulled a goal back in the 57th minute. Spinning away from a defender on the right side of the area, Nick LaBrocca lofted in a beautiful cross that Juan Pablo Ángel headed home from the center of the box.
•    Chivas then leveled terms in the 70th minute. A cross from Ante Jazic found Ángel in the box, and when neither White nor Brandon McDonald could clear the ball away, Ángel turned and finished past a lunging Bill Hamid in the United goal.
•    United had a glorious chance to win, earning a penalty in stoppage time when Ángel made contact with De Rosario in the box. De Rosario took his own penalty, but Kennedy guessed correctly, diving to his left to make the stop and preserve the draw.
•    Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made four changes to the team that suffered a late 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Heath Pearce and David Junior Lopes returned to the back four in place of Michael Lahoud and Zarek Valentin, and Ben Zemanski and Jorge Flores came back into the midfield for Simon Elliott and Justin Braun.
•    CHIVAS USA (4-3-2-1): Dan Kennedy - Michael Umana (Michael Lahoud 84), Heath Pearce, David Junior Lopes, Ante Jazic - Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Justin Braun 55) - Alejandro Moreno, Marcos Mondaini (Laurent Courtois 62) - Juan Pablo Angel

TEAM NEWS
•    While Chivas USA put an end to their four-game losing streak, they were inches away from seeing it extended before the late penalty save. Chivas is winless in their last seven games (0-4-3) since a 3-2 win against New England on Aug. 6.
•    “We put ourselves in a chance to win the game and it really ended positively. Obviously we could have lost it in the dying minutes, but Dan Kennedy makes a great save and I just think it speaks volumes and encapsulates the second half performance,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. “We did a lot of things well, we played very positively, we were able to create some chances, and then we make a big save at the end to at least walk out with a point.”
•    Both goals conceded by Chivas USA came from dead ball situations. Of the last 12 goals allowed by the rojiblancos – since Aug. 20 – five have come on set pieces.
•    “It’s a little bit disappointing when you give up two set-piece goals. We’ve given up a few set piece [goals] over the last few weeks when that’s something we were really quite good at for a while,” said Fraser.
•    Chivas USA will not have to travel away from The Home Depot Center again in the regular season beginning with the visit by Toronto FC. They will have one “road” game remaining in their final four – the Oct. 16 match against the LA Galaxy in Carson, which is a Galaxy home game.
•    “In this point in the season where we’re at, one point is not enough,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. “We really need three points every outing from here on out, but it will hopefully lift the spirits of the road trip a little bit and now we get to go back to The Home Depot Center and fight for our season at home in the remaining four games.”
•    With a 4-6-4 record in home matches, Chivas USA are the only team in MLS with a record below .500 on their home ground.
•    “At this point, certainly there’s a host of teams that are kind of at the bottom and looking up into the playoff race and every point you get is critical at this time. Obviously we’d like to have gotten three [points], but a point is better than no points at all,” said Fraser.
•    Juan Pablo Ángel has scored three goals in his last two games. Since coming to Chivas USA, he has five goals in four games; he has three goals in 22 games previously with the LA Galaxy.
•    “Since I’ve moved to [Chivas] I have enjoyed the game again. I feel that I’ve been playing better every game. I’m feeling more comfortable on the ball and in the air. Today I was happy that my goals helped the team to get at least a tie,” Ángel said.
•    It was Angel’s first two-goal game since July 31, 2010, when he scored a pair for the New York Red Bulls against Houston.

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC won for the second match on the trot, defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC has 30 points from 30 games on the season, sitting in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    Danny Koevermans put TFC two goals up with a brace inside of eight minute. First, in the 52nd minute, Ashtone Morgan's low cross found Koevermans streaking at the edge of the six-yard box and he diverted home a right-footed effort.
•    Then in the 60th minute, the cross came from the other flank as Nick Soolsma found Koevermans completely unmarked and he sent a header into the lower left corner.
•    The Rapids were able to pull a goal back nine minutes later. Receiving a cross from Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings saw two chances from inside the area blocked by TFC defenders. But the second rolled to Nyassi at the left post, and he drove the ball into the roof of the goal.
•    TFC head coach Aron Winter made two changes to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 4-2 at Crew Stadium. Milos Kocic returned between the posts for Stefan Frei, and Danny Koevermans came into the attack in place of Joao Plata.
•    TORONTO FC (3-3-1-3): Milos Kocic - Ashtone Morgan, Torsten Frings, Andy Iro - Richard Eckersley, Julian de Guzman, Ty Harden - Eric Avila (Mikael Yourassowsky 88) - Nick Soolsma (Terry Dunfield 80), Danny Koevermans (Matt Stinson 74), Ryan Johnson.

TEAM NEWS
•    Toronto FC will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Chivas USA AND if three of the following occur: Philadelphia ties or wins; Houston ties or wins; Portland wins.
•    The win against Colorado marked the first back-to-back win in league play all season for Toronto FC.
•    “I think we played a very good game. If you watch the game, we deserved to win. It was a good game,” head coach and technical director Aron Winter said. “Especially after the tough game we had this game the week in Mexico, it good to show up at home and play one of the teams who are going to play in the playoffs, I think it is a very good result.”
•    Danny Koevermans scored two goals in a game for the first time since coming to MLS, and has scored in back-to-back league games. He has six goals in his last seven league games.
•    “Great goals, he’s a real striker,” Winter said. “You can see at this moment, conditionally he is getting closer to 100 percent fit. … He doesn’t have that many chances to score in the games he has played, but the number of goals he has made is good. He’s promised a lot more in the future.”
•    Said midfielder Julian de Guzman: “It’s great to have a guy like Danny up front, with his experience. Maybe he’s not your fastest striker out there, but he is intelligent and the impact he brings in the attacking part has been very helpful. The way the system is built around him, it fits him perfectly.”
•    For a third time in league play, Winter installed Torsten Frings as a libero between two center backs – and for a second time it led to a victory in the 2-1 win against Colorado. The move led to a 1-0 win vs. Real Salt Lake on Aug. 13.
•    “You can choose to play 4-3-3 with him between the two central defenders but we're always watching the strengths of the opponents,” Winter said. “. (H)e's the guy [in the middle] that you can play always, and he's calm and comfortable on the ball. It's an option, he can play in that role and he can play it well.”
•    With Frings dropping behind the center backs, it allowed fullbacks Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan more freedom to get forward. Still, Eckersley cleared a ball off the line in the dying moments vs. Colorado.
•    “It's not my decision, it's the coach's decision,” Frings said through a translator. “I feel that the team likes that I play back there and we've been playing well with me back there. But at the end of the day, I am a midfielder and I'd like to play midfield again in the future."
•    On Tuesday, TFC gave their hopes of advancement in the CONCACAF Champions League a big boost, with a 1-0 victory against Panama’s Tauro FC at BMO Field. Danny Koevermans struck once again, heading home a Peri Marosevic cross in the 40th minute for the game’s lone goal.
•    Here’s the TFC team: Milos Kocic; Andy Iro, Ashtone Morgan, Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans (Mikael Yourassowsky 79), Nick Soolsma (Julian de Guzman 61), Ty Harden, Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield (Matthew Stinson 73), Richard Eckersley, Peri Marosevic