On the heels of an impressive 2-1 road victory against the Portland Timbers last week, Chivas USA are riding high. Come Saturday, they will take on Toronto FC at BMO Field (4:30 pm; watch LIVE online) in hopes of building a two-game winning streak for the first time this season.
Led by the play of speedy winger Ryan Smith and the cool finishing of Nick LaBrocca and Alejandro Moreno, the Rojiblancos displayed an attacking edge in Portland that had not been seen in recent matches.
While Chivas are trending upward, TFC are heading in the opposite direction and remain the only club in MLS without a point heading into their fifth match of the season. But even though life has been difficult for Toronto as of late, Chivas head coach Robin Fraser believes the Reds present a real danger.
“Toronto is a much better team than their MLS record indicates. They eliminated the Galaxy from the CONCACAF Champions League then went down to Mexico and had a couple of leads. That’s tough stuff to do,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com from Toronto on Friday. “They’re clearly better than their record indicates and our approach needs to be right. The message has been for the last couple of weeks, which is to continue to be aggressive in the right spots and aggressive while going forward.”
While Chivas look to maintain their aggressive mindset, they will do so without the services of forward Juan Pablo Angel (concussion symptoms) and midfielder Mike Lahoud (right hamstring strain) for the fifth consecutive week.
However, one player who may pick up the slack for the club’s injured stars will be midfielder Paolo Cardozo, who joined the team midweek from the LA Galaxy in a trade that sent defender David Junior Lopes across the hall. The dynamic midfielder made the trip to Toronto and Fraser admits that Cardozo has “as good a chance as any player to see the field” against TFC.
“He’s a quiet kid; he just shows up and does his work. So far so good really. Obviously it’s only been a couple of days and I think that’s perfectly normal at this point because over time those relationships [with his teammates] will grow,” said Fraser.
“He’s comfortable on the ball, he has good ideas on the ball and he’s technically clean," the coach added. "I’ve seen situations where he’s been very close to being dangerous for LA and I think that as he continues to mature, those chances will turn into goals and assists.”
But while Cardozo settles into his new surroundings, the Rojiblancos understand that it is their responsibility to maintain their aggression in hopes of turning positive form into a winning streak.
“Our mentality is clicking right now and we just need to make it a habit,” forward Cesar Romero told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “Last weekend [against Portland], we all got together and just said ‘let’s do this and take it to them and show them that we’re not an away team, but we’re going to play every game like it’s a home game.’ We‘ve kept that mentality in every practice [this week] and we’ve been hoping to show it [against Toronto].”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.