CARSON, Calif. — In the middle of a three-games-in-eight-days stretch, Chivas USA return home this week with a run up the table in mind.
The Rojiblancos hope to get just their second home win this season on Wednesday against Vancouver (10:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live). If they manage to do so, it’ll come at the expense of a Whitecaps side that has just replaced head coach Teitur Thordarson with technical director Tom Soehn—a move that Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser called a “surprise” on Tuesday.
“We don’t know what to expect,” said Fraser. “There’s either ‘It’s a breath of fresh air’ or the thought that ‘I have to fight for my job because there’s a new coach.’ Either way they’re going to be very motivated.”
The Whitecaps match is the first of two straight home matches for Chivas against expansion sides. They’ll host Portland on Saturday night.
Chivas will be forced to make several changes with four players out because of suspension (Jorge Flores) and international duty (Alejandro Moreno, Simon Elliott and Andrew Boyens). In their absence, it will be up to the Rojiblancos bench to reinforce the starting XI.
At training on Tuesday, Michael Umaña, Francisco Mendoza, Gerson Mayén and Chris Cortez — all usually reserves — got some time in the starting lineup alongside first team regulars. With three games in eight days and several players missing, Fraser can be forgiven for shuffling his squad.
“Three games in eight days with a red card and three guys out on international duty, that changes the equation a little bit,” Fraser explained. “It’s good that we have guys that are just starting to come healthy again and it adds to our depth. It doesn’t change our preparation a whole lot — it does change some of personnel — but it doesn’t change our approach.”
With many on the bench likely to be thrust into the starting XI, the time is now for several of the Chivas USA’s injured to return to the game day roster. Tristan Bowen (ankle sprain), Blair Gavin (hamstring strain), Paulo Nagamura (calf sprain) and Seth Owusu (knee sprain) have been training for a week while Jimmy Conrad and Mike Lahoud have cleared concussion protocol and are free to train with the team.
“We’re definitely stretched and this is the time of year when that happens due to Gold Cup, Copa América or international duty, and I think that all teams are going through it for the most part,” said Fraser. “We’re stretched, but these guys [who are injured] are in the mix.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano