Chivas USA have bolstered their defensive corps for the stretch run toward the MLS Cup Playoffs, adding a couple of key veterans to their squad.
Last week, Chivas acquired veteran goalkeeper Jon Conway. Conway will join Lance Parker as a backup for usual starter Zach Thornton, who currently leads MLS in goals-against average (0.82) and is tied for first in shutouts (9).
The Red-and-White acquired Conway on Sept. 11 in a trade with New York that sent Chivas USA's fourth-round draft pick in 2011 to the Red Bulls. The 6-foot-6 goalkeeper is settling into life with his new club and is excited to contribute to the team's playoff push.
"The position that we're in right now is exciting," said Conway. "We have a chance to make a good run into the playoffs. The way the team is playing right now is great and exciting to watch. They move the ball around and really do a great job."
Conway spent the last four seasons with the Red Bulls, where remains third in club history among goalkeepers in games played (63), minutes played in goal (5,553) and saves (242), and first in goals-against average (1.36).
He got his start in MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes after he was selected 28th overall in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft out of Rutgers University. He spent five seasons with the Quakes, helping the club to MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003.
Coming to Chivas USA partners Conway with Thornton for the second time in his career. The two were teammates in New York during the 2008 season.
"Zach and I were together in New York, so that helped make this an easy transition for me," said Conway. "We have a great relationship and really work well together."
Signing with the Red-and-White also offers Conway the chance to work with Chivas USA goalkeeper coach Leo Percovich.
"Zach spoke highly of Leo in New York," said Conway. "I was expecting exactly what I'm getting now and it's been great."
While Thornton will continue to serve as the Red-and-White's starting 'keeper, Conway could get some time in Chivas USA's upcoming match against sister team Chivas de Guadalajara, the ChivaClásico on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
"For me, the biggest challenge is to be ready, mentally and physically, to contribute whenever I need to," said Conway.
The second addition is not really an addition, although it might seem that way. Chivas USA removed defender Claudio Suarez from the disabled list, making him eligible to play in MLS competition for the rest of the season. The veteran has gotten over a right calf strain and will travel with the team to Seattle this weekend.
Suarez was re-signed just before the start of the season, but immediately went on the disabled list. He returned to make substitute appearances in back-to-back games June 6 and 10, before going back on the DL. He had to come off the disabled list by the roster freeze deadline of Sept. 15 to be available for the remainder of the season. Like Conway, Suarez could also see some time in the ChivaClásico at the Rose Bowl. It would be a homecoming, of sorts, as Suarez spent three years with Guadalajara during his time in the Mexican Primera Division.
While time will tell how many minutes Conway and Suarez are able to contribute on the field for Chivas USA, the team is certainly happy to have two veterans back in the mix as it pushes toward a fourth consecutive spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Jeffrey King is a contributor to MLSnet.com.