In the first installment of a new series that looks at the fantasy fortunes of specific MLS teams, we caught up with MLSsoccer.com's Chivas USA beat writer, Adam Serrano. With the Goats coming off a shocking 1-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium, we discussed the fantasy implications of rising star Casey Townsend and whether Robin Fraser’s squad can shut down a powerful Sporting Kansas City attack at home.
Fantasy Spotlight: Chivas USA are obviously coming off the big win against RSL. Is Casey Townsend a player to watch in the future and what’s your take on him?
Serrano: Casey is definitely someone to watch. He’s a very physical player and a natural poacher.
The Chivas fans really like to compare him to Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernández — they actually call him the Snow Pea — because he’s so adept at getting on the end of plays. As you saw on the goal, when he went after RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, it caused a little bit of miscommunication between Rimando and center back Chris Schuler that led to that goal. He was right there to dusrupt the play and finished when the opportunity presented itself.
He’s someone you definitely have to look for. Juan Pablo Ángel is still coming back from back from concussion symptoms, and we all know how that can go. Townsend has really seemed to take a clear step ahead of Cesar Romero. I wasn’t sure which one of them would take that spot behind Juan, but Casey’s really taken it. He had some chances in the game against Vancouver, and forced Joe Cannon to make the Save of the Week. He’s definitely someone that you want to keep tabs on.
FS: Ángel has only played the one game this year. How is he doing with his recovery and does he have a chance to play this weekend?
Serrano: Juan is really fighting to get back. He’s such a competitor and he’s always itching to return. What we’ve been hearing is that he’s been feeling better and every day he seems to be improving. Chivas seem pretty confident that he’s going to make a return against Kansas City, and we’ll see how he trains this week. If he’s feeling healthy, I would maybe pencil him in to play against Kansas City. There is no guarentee, however, that he will be ready.
FS: If he does return, is he a starter or a sub?
Serrano: If he’s going to play, he’s going to start. You might see Chivas potentially go to a two-striker set. They looked really good with two strikers in the preseason and, personally, I feel they had some of their best success when they had two guys up there, which means removing aholding midfielder like a Pete Vagenas or maybe even a Nick La Brocca and pushing a second striker up alongside Angel. That makes the attack a little bit better, but it’s not really Fraser’s style of play. So if Juan Pablo’s back, he’s going to be starting and Townsend is going back to the bench, unless they go with a two-striker set.
FS: Finally, do you think there’s any chance that Chivas USA records a shutout at home against SKC?
Serrano: It all comes down to Dan Kennedy. If you’re a fantasy owner, that’s the guy you want on your team. Also, Rauwshaun McKenzie has really taken the starting role and run with it. I think before this season, he’d played 11 games, so he’s basically a rookie when it comes to game situations despite being in the league for awhile. He’s really taken that role and put John Valencia, the new Colombian signing, on the bench, which is something that surprised me because Valencia’s a very talented player.
They have the tools to shut down Kansas City and they’ve shown it so far. If you really want evidence, just look at that game against Vancouver. The Whitecaps have an abundance of attacking options and it was kind of a fluke corner kick that led to the goal. They can shut teams down.