THE HOME DEPOT CENTER
LOS ANGELES, Calif.
7 pm PT (FSN-W2, Azteca)
Chivas USA return to Victoria Street expecting a big crowd as their home supporters get to see new signings Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia for the first time. In their first two games with their Mexican imports, Chivas gained a pair of draws on the road, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. The Columbus Crew have also kept their postseason dreams going in the past few weeks, getting a pair of 1-0 wins in their last two matches to keep pace in the Eastern Conference.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger (bench): Chip Reed; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Ian Anderson
MLS Career: 9 games; FC/gm: 30.2; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 1; pens: 7
Games involving Chivas USA: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 30.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 1
Games involving Crew: P4 W4 L0 T0; FC/gm: 28.5; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 0; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Francisco Gomez (L quadriceps strain); FW Matt Taylor (L adductor strain); MF Hector Castro (L knee ACL sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF Victor Arbelaez (L adductor strain); PROBABLE: FW: Thiago Martins (L ankle sprain) ... COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee) PROBABLE: MF Mario Rodriguez (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: DF Frankie Hejduk (USA; Sept. 3 v Mexico)
SUSPENDED: CLB: Kyle Martino (21 CP; through Sept. 4)
WARNINGS: CHV: Hector Cuadros (19 CP)
The two teams meet for the first time ever, their first of two on the season and the only one set for The Home Depot Center. They will play Oct. 1 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
ALL-TIME: first meeting
FC Dallas saw their league winless streak reach eight games though they twice came back before settling for a wholly unsatisfying 2-2 draw for both teams.
Chivas took the lead in the 36th minute, Esteban Arias latching on to a poor clearance right at the top of the area before sending a low drive back through the mixer that settled into the back of the net.
But FC Dallas pulled even eight minutes later as Carlos Ruiz for the fourth time in three games at the new home of the Hoops. Eddie Johnson skipped past Armando Begines in the right side of the Chivas penalty area before pulling back a rolling ball that Ruiz tapped home from close range.
Yet Chivas again took the lead just before the hour, a corner from the right flicked on at the near post by Ramon Ramirez and Ezra Hendrickson steamed in at the back stick to prod it over the line just in front of the valiant dive by Jeff Cassar. The FCD 'keeper was injured on the play, remaining in a heap in the back of the goal for several minutes, and Scott Garlick had to come on in his place.
Eight minutes later FC Dallas again found the equalizer, this time Chivas failing to clear and ball falling to Ramon Nuñez right at the top of the area, and he hammered a rising blast home to keep Chivas USA still winless on the year away from home and extend their winless run to five games.
Chivas boss Hans Westerhof made one change to the team that played to a 3-3 draw with the MetroStars the Sunday before at Giants Stadium. Esteban Arias returned from suspension to slot into the midfield as Francisco Mendoza returned to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Westerhof's team (3-3-1-3): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Douglas Sequeira, Armando Begines - Esteban Arias, Ramon Ramirez, Orlando Perez - Juan Pablo Garcia (Hector Cuadros 82) - Arturo Torres, Juan Francisco Palencia, Antonio Martinez
It was important that we played the second half better then the first," said Westerhof. "We play a lot of games where we play well in the first half and we have problems in the second half but tonight our play in the second half our physical play was better."
Chivas USA played to a draw on the road for the second successive week, just the third result they've gotten on the road this season, last weekend in a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Still, the Chivas postseason hopes are growing increasingly dimmer, now with 14 points from 25 matches, 14 behind fourth-place Colorado Rapids with just seven matches remaining (and the Rapids with two matches in hand).
While Chivas has claimed draws in their last two matches - since Mexican imports Juan Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia have joined the team and moved into the starting lineup - Westerhof is still looking for better consistency in his team's forward movement.
"It's not too easy for us to keep the ball. It's still difficult to put together five or six straight passes. We made mistakes in the midfield, but we can definitely improve on that," he said. " ... What we need is patience when they make plays in the first half we were impatient and made mistakes and that is why we needed Brad Guzan to play more long balls."
Chivas is still chasing a first victory on the road in club history, though before the last two results, they had just one draw in their first 11 away matches. "In New York we had the lead and here we had the lead," said Guzan. "We need to learn how to keep the lead and get a big result on the road. Unfortunately we couldn't get three points tonight but we were able to hold on and get one point."
Despite the daunting task ahead of them, Chivas still feel they can gain a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs. "You look at the standings now with the top teams at the top of the table and you look at us in last place and I feel now there is not a big difference," said Guzan.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't get the result we wanted today. This tie feels more like a loss. We need every point that we can get. It's tough when you are trying to make a run at the playoffs," said Orlando Perez. "We came here knowing that we have nothing to lose at this point. We have to get every win we can. We took the game to them and unfortunately, we didn't get the win. We still have to look forward to next week versus Columbus and getting three points."
After losing all three previous meetings with FC Dallas, including a couple of heavy defeats, it was a much better result this time around for Chivas. "Dallas is definitely more dangerous up top than the MetroStars. They have three forwards that make one of the best combos in the league. They definitely play the same style, playing the same formation that we do," said Perez.
Forward Matt Taylor said he would be available for duty if needed this weekend. Taylor underwent surgery on a sports hernia on Aug. 7, last playing July 9. Originally, Taylor thought his injury would sideline him the rest of the season, but that was before he saw Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck, a renowned specialist in Germany.
"In two and a half weeks, I was out playing," Taylor said to the Pasadena Star-News. "If I was operated on here, my season would have been over. This doctor has performed this surgery on more than a thousand soccer players, because it's a pretty common injury among soccer players. You can bet more and more players that suffer this injury will be doing the same thing. The recovery time is really unbelievable, when you think about it."
The Crew put an end to the four-game winning streak of the Wizards thanks to a goal from another player who came back to haunt his former club.
Chris Henderson scored the only goal of the game in the 34th minute for the Crew, the one-time Wizards winger finishing off a good move that prised open the K.C. defense, collecting Kyle Martino's chip and slotting home past Bo Oshoniyi inside the far post.
The Wizards were left with 10 men late in the match as Diego Gutierrez was sent off for a second bookable offense.
Crew boss Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that defeated FC Dallas 1-0 the weekend before. Frankie Hejduk was out through injury, so David Testo came in at a wide midfield role. Cornell Glen was this week's choice to fill out the attacking trident, replacing Marcus Storey.
Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-2-1): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall, Robin Fraser, Mark Schulte - Chris Henderson, Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela, David Testo - Kyle Martino (Knox Cameron 89), Cornell Glen (Marcus Storey 65) - John Wolyniec (Chris Wingert 79)
"It feels great. I think we played very well. The team was very responsible on the field and scored a beautiful goal," Warzycha said. "We were very sharp and very relaxed. From the first minute of the game we felt that we could win this game."
The Columbus Crew continued their late-season surge toward salvation, winning for the second consecutive week, this time making the only goal stand up for the second week in a row, this time a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium last Friday. The Crew are still in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 23 matches, 12 points out of fourth place and the final playoff spot with nine matches remaining.
Warzycha has somewhat been holding auditions for the third place in the attacking trio, with John Wolyniec as the targetman and Kyle Martino filling the other wide forward slot. He put Glen into the lineup against the Wizards and his pace and workrate created a number of opportunities on the left flank in his 65 minutes.
"Cornell was a little bit tired," Warzycha said. "I felt like (Wizards defender Nick) Garcia was having too much space (in which to go forward). Even if he did good things offensively, I was worried about Garcia coming forward. That's why I made that sub."
It was the Crew's first victory on the road this season in 10 league matches away from Crew Stadium.
"I think we possessed the ball a lot better tonight and we made the most of our possession, especially in the first half," Elliott said. "I thought our first half performance was very good. In the second half, we made the mistake and sitting back and they tried to stay up and be more positive. We can't let the pendulum swing back their way."
The Crew have taken 12 of a possible 18 points over their last four games as they've pulled themselves back into the Eastern Conference race.
"I think from what I have seen, this game has been the most complete effort we have put forth. Kansas City had a couple of chances, but I think we made all the arguments to win the match. Simply put, that's it. We wanted to win tonight and did everything we could to get it and we held on to it."
Frankie Hejduk suffered a knock in the MLS Select match against Real Madrid, and that combined with the travel kept him out of the Wizards match. David Testo filled his role. "We have the players that can step up and play," said Warzycha. If he is not on the field, someone else will and do that best that he can." Said Martino: "We just need to makes sure that when Frankie is gone, we need the person that fills his spot to bring the same intensity."
Warzycha said Mark Schulte has won a starting spot in the back three. He came in for Chris Wingert when he was suspended against FC Dallas, and then started against Kansas City. "As long as he continues to perform well, he has the job," said Warzycha.
"He was a little bit nervous in the beginning of the game against Dallas," he said. "After 25 minutes, I think he took a deep breath and from that point everything was OK. think the second game was much better than the first one. He is a good defender and a good player. He helped us a lot in getting these two shutouts."