Chivas USA are back in the comfortable confines of Southern California after a week-long road trip that saw them earn their first result: a 1-1 draw at Toronto FC on Saturday.
Though the Rojiblancos were happy to earn their first point, they now prepare for Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew while looking to build on their momentum — and perhaps earn their first victory of 2011.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Toronto FC 1, Chivas USA 1
Here are the three things that we learned about the Rojiblancos on Saturday:
Flores needs to be playing in an attacking role
After earning a starting role on the left side of midfield at the end of last season, Jorge Flores has returned to that position in 2011. The youngster from Orange County, Calif., drew rave reviews from Fraser for his effort against Toronto and in particular for helping create the Goats' only goal of the match.
Playing in an attacking role appears to be a welcome change for Flores, who remains a work in progress on defense. Throughout much of last season, the former Sueño MLS winner was deployed primarily at left back, a position at which he did not seem ideally suited. By placing him in his natural wing position, Chivas can be far more of a threat going forward.
[inline_node:332889]Injuries are forcing Fraser to get creative with his lineups
Chivas USA have been decimated by player absences due to injury or international duty. During the road trip to Toronto, the club was without several of its key players as Blair Gavin, Michael Umana and Jimmy Conrad, to name a few, were out because of injuries. This led to a number of players playing out of position, such as defensive midfielder Michael Lahoud lining up at right back or Heath Pearce taking over for Jimmy Conrad at center back.
These changes are not uncommon as Fraser already deployed midfielder Ben Zemanski in a center back role for the first match of the season. The constant lineup changes are clearly forcing this team to mature quickly, which will be vital as it tries to pull itself out of an early hole.
Chivas USA need to be more aggressive offensively
Following the draw, Fraser said that his team appeared more dangerous in the final third as they took more chances against the Toronto defense.
However, Chivas must show more aggression going forward in order to turn draws into victories. The inclusion of Alejandro Moreno on Saturday was vital as the Venezuelan took a great deal of defensive pressure off of Justin Braun and Marcos Mondaini (above, right), allowing them to create many more scoring opportunities than in their first two matches.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano