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USOC: Chivas USA face familiar PDL foe Ventura County

Head coach Robin Fraser of Chivas USA

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CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA simply  have not enjoyed much success in the US Open Cup.

In fact, they have only won their first game in the competition once – in 2010 when they advanced to the semi-finals – but this year head coach Robin Fraser is aiming to change all that. 

The Rojiblancos are going full-speed ahead in the Open Cup starting with their third-round clash against PDL side Ventura County Fusion on Wednesday evening (10 pm ET). Even after a tough 13-day stretch that saw his club take six points from four games, Fraser intends to put out a top-tier lineup against Ventura.

“We’re trying to win the game and trying to win the game the best we can based on guys’ health, who’s available, who’s in-form," Fraser said. “It’s not much different [than a regular match]. It just needs to be a balance between fielding the best team that we can possibly field and making sure that players are getting appropriate rest.”

When Chivas USA travel the 100-mile trip up the Central California coast, they will already possess a great deal of familiarity with the Fusion. Not only did the two clubs face off during the preseason, but the Fusion contain two players – midfielder Kennedy Chongo and defender Daniel Steres – who spent the preseason with the Rojiblancos as well as Chivas USA-original and former Portland Timbers midfielder Rodrigo López.

But no one is more familiar with a member of the Fusion than Tristan Bowen, whose older brother Travis scored three goals for the Fusion during their second-round victory over USL PRO side LA Blues. Having recently returned from a year-long loan with Belgian side KSV Roeselare, Bowen will not be available for selection on Tuesday, but he’ll be watching his team and his brother closely.  

“That would be nice if it’s like a 4-3 game where Chivas wins and Travis scores another hat trick,” Bowen kidded with reporters on Monday. “That’s an ideal world, but who knows what will happen.”

All joking aside, the Rojiblancos understand that they’re in for a stiff test when they take on the PDL side. With the lower-division players not simply playing to advance in the tournament, but also to possibly catch the eye of MLS scouts, Chivas’ task is presented with another obstacle they must overcome in order to advance.

“It’s a very big [element],” noted Fraser. “They get to play a slightly larger scope than they do every game. MLS is the first division in this country so when you have the opportunity to face off against a first division team it’s your ability to showcase yourself. We see that often where a lot of Open Cup games are very difficult because guys see it as their opportunity, and rightfully so. For the guys on our team, it has to be business as usual. It’s another game to be won and another competition to be won.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com