April 2, 2006 (WEEK #1) - MLS Game #5
Last year's two expansion clubs face off to open their second campaigns in MLS, hoping for a bit more success in their sophomore seasons. Chivas USA is now guided by the winningest coach in MLS history, Bob Bradley, and he's recast the club with a number of veterans as they try to build on their four wins from a year ago. John Ellinger has returned in charge of Real Salt Lake, and he too has brought in a number of long-time MLS campaigners, as his side looks for an addition to their five wins recorded a season ago.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Steven Davidson; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
MLS Career: 42 games; FC/gm: 32.1; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 11; pens: 17
Games involving Chivas USA: P2 W0 L1 T1; FC/gm: 35.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 2; pens: 1
Games involving Real: P2 W1 L1 T0; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 2; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA -OUT: Francisco Gomez (L knee surgery), Matt Taylor (R ankle fracture); DOUBTFUL: Ramon Ramirez (L knee sprain), Carlos Llamosa (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: Juan Pablo Garcia (L knee sprain); PROBABLE: Antonio Martinez (L hip flexor strain) ... REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: DF Paul Broome (L ankle internal derangement); FW Jeff Rowland (R knee ACL tear); MF Seth Trembly (L knee ACL tear); PROBABLE: FW Jason Kreis (L knee inflammation); FW Jeff Cunningham (L hamstring strain); DF Eddie Pope (low back sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first of four meetings this season for last year's expansion clubs. It's the first of two set for The Home Depot Center bookending the season, as they will next meet here in league play in the season finale on Oct. 15. In between come the two meetings at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on July 4 and July 26.
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Chivas USA 2 wins, 8 goals ... Real 2 wins, 5 goals ... 0 draws
AT CARSON: (2 meetings): Chivas USA 2 wins, 6 goals ... Real 0 wins, 1 goals ... 0 draws
LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/7: CHV 1, RSL 0 (Cuadros 39)
5/18: RSL 2, CHV 0 (Williams 37; Trembly 39)
7/9: CHV 5, RSL 1 (og 4; Cuadros 16; Martinez 53; Taylor 55; Romo 83 - Mathis 23)
8/6: RSL 2, CHV 1 (Williams 49; Kreis 74 - Torres 27)
A year ago, the two new league clubs split their season series, each maintaining form on their home grounds.
For Chivas, their two wins were historic. The 1-0 victory at The Home Depot Center on May 7 was the first in club history. Then their 5-1 win on Victoria Street on July 9 was the biggest in the team's short life.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley vs. RSL: P2 W0 L0 D2 ... John Ellinger v CHV: P4 W2 L2 D0
After finishing at the foot of the Western Conference a year ago, it's been an offseason of change for Chivas USA. The all-time winningest coach in MLS history - Bob Bradley - has been brought in to assume the head coaching duties, and he's brought with him a number of long-time MLS campaigners to fortify the side. But the club still has significant Mexican character, Mexican icon Claudio Suarez joining Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia in the squad.
Chivas USA completed their preseason with a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire on March 25 in Jackson, Miss., the game's only goal coming from Fire rookie Calen Carr.
Here's Bob Bradley's team on the night: Brad Guzan - Jonathan Bornstein (Orlando Pérez 46), Claudio Suárez, Tim Regan, Lawson Vaughn (Ezra Hendrickson 62) - Francisco Mendoza, Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Jesús Padilla - Ante Razov, Francisco Palencia (Drew Helm 46)
Two weeks earlier, Chivas had gotten the better of the Fire in southern California, winning 3-0 behind an Ante Razov hat trick (12, 40, 75).
Here's Bradley's team for that encounter: Preston Burpo - Orlando Pérez, Tim Regan, Claudio Suárez (Lawson Vaughn, 41), Ezra Hendrickson - Francisco Mendoza, Jesse Marsch, Juan Pablo García, Sacha Kljestan - Francisco Palencia, Ante Razov
As Chivas opened their inaugural season, much was made of the club's desire to follow in the footsteps of mother club CD Guadalajara in Mexico and play with a 3-4-3 scheme. But Bradley has kept his team in a solid 4-4-2 system throughout the preseason.
Bradley has also strengthened his team up the middle with a bunch of thirty-somethings: Claudio Suarez (37) and Carlos Llamosa could be the first-choice pairing in central defense; Jesse Marsch (32) will join Ramón Ramirez in the center of midfield and Ante Razov (32) will partner Francisco Palencia in attack.
"Clearly, there's a mentality now that this year we must find a way to be a more balanced team, a more complete team, we must compete at a higher level and we must win," Bradley said to the Los Angeles Times.
"I think they underestimated the league," said MLS veteran midfielder Francisco Gomez to the Times. "It's a tough league. It wasn't a walk in the park. But there's definitely a difference this year. ... I think we're going to shock a lot of people."
Suarez was called into the Mexican national team for its friendly on Wednesday against Paraguay at Soldier Field in Chicago. Suarez has won 173 caps with Mexico, just six fewer than world record holder Mohamed Al-Deayea of Saudi Arabia.
REAL SALT LAKE
Last year Real Salt Lake finished the expansion battle ahead - but just barely - of their opening match rival Chivas USA. John Ellinger returns for a second season in charge of the Utah club, and while the young guns who filled out the roster are still around, there's even more of a veteran feel to the team in its second season.
Real finished their preseason campaign on March 25 with a 3-1 victory against the University of Portland in the Clive Charles Soccer Classic in Portland, Ore. Andy Williams scored a pair of goals for RSL, with the third coming from Ryan Johnson. Ellinger ran out completely different teams for each 45-minute half.
Real's last preseason match against MLS competition came March 19, a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Francisco Palencia and Francisco Mendoza scored two minutes apart in the first half for Chivas before Real hit back through a Jeff Cunningham penalty just before the halftime interval.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-4-2): Scott Garlick; Danny Torres (Gustavo Cabrera, 20; Jason Kries, 71), Nelson Akwari, Carey Talley, Chris Brown; Mehdi Ballouchy, Douglas Sequeira, Kevin Novak (Christian Jiménez, 46), Andy Williams; Atiba Harris, Jeff Cunningham
On the same day, Real's reserves defeated the Chivas reserves 2-0, with goals from Christian Jiménez and Cameron Knowles. Here's the RSL lineup in the second match: Noah Palmer; Nikolas Besagno, Cameron Knowles, Willis Forko; Christian Jiménez; Adam Acosta, Kenny Cutler, Ryan Martin, Joel Worthen; Jamie Watson, Ryan Johnson
"It's been a pleasant surprise with how it's looked in the preseason," said Ellinger to the Deseret Morning News. "The goals we've given up in the preseason have been good goals. Knock on wood, we haven't given up easy goals. I hope that continues for a long time."
One of the offseason moves Real made was the acquisition of veteran goalkeeper Scott Garlick from FC Dallas, to bring some stability to the position last year manned by D.J. Countess and rookie Jay Nolly. Countess has left, and another '05 draft pick, Noah Palmer, is the club's third 'keeper. Garlick is in his ninth season, and won an MLS Cup with D.C. United.
"He's been on winning and successful teams, and goalkeeping is that initial cornerstone that you build a team," said Real assistant coach Peter Mellor to the Deseret Morning News. "He's a great professional. Somebody who's going to be good, not just on the field, but off the field. He's proven over the years he's pretty stable."
Real have been suffering through some real injury concerns leading into the opener. Kreis is still suffered from knee inflammation and has his injury re-evaluated by U.S. national team doctor Bert Mandelbaum after returning to game action on March 19. "It's just basically a matter of time," Kreis said, "and the doctor said my knee is going to let me know when that time is." Kreis underwent ACL surgery last September.
Seth Trembly is also out after having surgery on his left knee on March 17, while Jeff Rowland will miss several months this season after a ACL graft on his right knee.
Defender Paul Broome, who claimed the starting left back spot late in the year, will be gone for up to three months after surgery to clean out scar tissue in his left ankle. Daniel Torres, who has returned to the league after going back home to his native Costa Rica (he was formerly with Columbus), has sewn up the left-back job in his place.
"He obviously stepped right in, and gave us more solidity at the back," said Ellinger to the Deseret Morning News. "He gets forward well when the opportunities are there. His pace is good, his fitness is good."
With Torres at one fullback, the other side will be held down by Chris Brown. Carey Talley and Eddie Pope will likely start in central defense - and Ellinger has been trying out last year No. 1 overall pick, 17-year-old Nikolas Besagno, in the center of the back four.
"For Nik's benefit, I'm going to try and keep him as a central defender throughout the year, and let him mature as the season goes on," said Ellinger to the Deseret News.