CARSON, Calif. – Robin Fraser has been rebuilding Chivas USA in his image, and that desire has led the former MLS all-star defender to bring in a number of defensive players to Chivas USA.
From Heath Pearce to Andrew Boyens, Simon Elliott to Zarek Valentin, Chivas USA will be a difficult team to score against due to their newfound defensive depth. However, for all the depth along the back line and the midfield, the Rojiblancos are still searching for who will score goals.
The team carries a host of options from Justin Braun, Alan Gordon, Alejandro Moreno and Tristan Bowen, to name a few, but throughout the preseason, Chivas have struggled. They’ve scored a scant four goals – two of them against MLS competition – en route to a 3-3-1 record so far.
A potential reason for Chivas USA’s woes up top could be the loss of Braun – who was the team’s leading goal-scorer with nine in 2010 – for most of the preseason. With Braun absent, Fraser has relied on Gordon alternating with Moreno as a withdrawn forward, with Bowen or Jesus Padilla up top in the club’s new 4-1-4-1 formation.
On Thursday, Braun returned to full training after missing the start of preseason with an ankle injury that the forward picked up while training with the US national team in January. Braun spent most of the last seven weeks rehabbing, and the forward was finally able to play with his teammates during short-sided matches. While the goals have not come quickly during preseason, the added depth at the forward position is comforting to Braun.
“We have a good group of guys and we’ve brought in a lot of great attackers,” Braun told MLSsoccer.com. “Hopefully, we’re going to score some goals because we do not want to be one of the lower teams in goal scored. We’ve got a good corps that could add a lot of excitement to the attacking end.”
[inline_node:329687]One of those forwards that were brought in to ease the burden on Braun is Moreno. Added through the Re-Entry draft from the Philadelphia Union, the veteran Venezuelan forward has been instrumental not only on the field, but tutoring the young Goats.
While the team has struggled to score, Moreno admits that there is still a learning curve for Fraser’s bevy of attackers.
“We have a lot of capable players and a lot of young players, a lot of guys that bring a lot of different skill sets to the positions and it’s important for us to blend those together,” said Moreno. “We’re still trying to get used to what the coach wants to do on the field, but what we all need to focus on is what we do best and the things that have made us successful in the past.”
With the season opener against Sporting Kansas City on March 19 quickly approaching, the Rojiblancos still have a pair of preseason matches on the docket, Saturday against UCLA and March 12 against FC Dallas. As Chivas hope to push for a playoff berth in Fraser’s first season, the club’s offense will need to get in gear to get off to a fast start to 2011.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano