CARSON, Calif. – The international break couldn’t have gone better for Chivas USA.
Not only is the team fit and rested coming into a busy stretch of four games in 10 days, they were able to gain additional momentum ahead of Saturday’s clash with Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) even while many MLS teams idled.
Currently undefeated in their last four league games, the Rojiblancos added two straight wins in US Open Cup play during the two-week international break to extend their unbeaten streak to six games in all competitions.
With his side heading into Saturday’s match sharp and fresh, head coach Robin Fraser admits those Open Cup games have been invaluable for his side’s form.
“In a long stretch when you have meaningful games, you stay within a game rhythm and even get the opportunity to experiment with certain things so it was definitely beneficial,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. “We had those meaningful games and got decent results so any time you get results then it’s good for your confidence.”
Perhaps most important for Chivas to continue their stellar run of form will be maintaining the up-tempo, high-pressure offensive game that they've flashed sporadically. Throughout the week of training in the build-up to the Salt Lake match, Fraser and the rest of the staff have stressed a commitment to high pressure as they look to create havoc for RSL from the start.
But while the offense is planning to play a high-tempo game, Fraser’s center backs understand that careful attention must be placed on RSL’s possession-oriented attack.
The one player that may provide the most cause for concern is forward Álvaro Saborío, who will arrive on Saturday in the midst of a scoring tear after bagging four goals with Costa Rica during the international break.
“He’s a big physical presence and we need to be able to match that physical presence,” center back Danny Califf told MLSsoccer.com. “We need to always have an eye on him especially in the box. He’s been on fire … and that’s going to be a huge test for Rauwshan [McKenzie] and [me]. We can’t lose concentration at any moment.”
But regardless of the opponent, the Goats are simply champing at the bit to get back on the field.
“In the time that we had off, we increased our fitness and recovered from the injuries that people had,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com. “I really like our lineup for tomorrow and we always seem to play well against this Salt Lake team so it will be another great match-up.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.