CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA’s preseason is winding down and gaining game experience is paramount as the 2012 season quickly approaches.
The Rojiblancos will get their first dress rehearsal on Wednesday in their first preseason friendly when they take on Mexican Primera División side Club Tijuana at San Diego’s Torero Stadium.
With their season opener against the Houston Dynamo less than two weeks away, Chivas' match against the Xolos offers another opportunity for the club to see how far they’ve grown this preseason.
“We need to get up to competitive game speed and there is no other way than to be thrown into it,” head coach Robin Fraser told reporters on Monday. “If you play against a good team which is doing well in the Mexican first division, which is a good league, then you get to play a game in a stadium with lights on and a crowd and it’s all a process to get ready for the season.”
One of Fraser’s primary objectives for Wednesday’s friendly – and the matches that follow – will be testing how his players react to extended game action. So far this preseason, minutes have been rigidly structured for Chivas’ regulars as the club evaluates its various draft picks and trialists.
After a series of preseason scrimmages against local clubs and MLS teams in preseason matches in which starters rarely played 90 minutes, Fraser promises to test his first team against Tijuana.
“Obviously, we want to start to stretch guys," Fraser said. "Psychologically, there is a difference between 45 and 60, 70 to 75 and 75 to 90 [minutes]. It’s just getting [players] used to having to concentrate for that period of time, so we want to stretch minutes on most of the guys.”
Following their match in San Diego, Chivas USA will prepare to head to the Pacific Northwest for a preseason tournament next week in Portland featuring the Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and Swedish top-flight side AIK.
With March 11 inching closer every day, every minute of game action is vital for Fraser's squad.
“I think that playing games in general is going to help us progress,” defender James Riley told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “We’ll learn from each other and that’s where we build character and continue to establish our foundation. Playing as many games as we can play in is what we need at this point.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.