With some tough roster decisions still ahead, Chivas USA will travel Saturday to battle the Fresno Fuego of the PDL. The Red-and-White will use the scrimmage as an opportunity to evaluate some of the team's newer players.
Chivas USA have played nine preseason games thus far, earning an impressive 6-2-1 record during that time. The most recent of the scrimmages came against MLS competition in Phoenix, with the Red-and-White recording two draws against the Kansas City Wizards and a draw and a loss against Columbus.
"We need to keep building on the work we did against those two MLS teams," said striker Justin Braun of Saturday's match. "It's definitely a different level when you play against MLS, but I'm sure Fresno will give us a good challenge and we just need to continue to work on the things that we need to do as a team."
The match will provide another chance for some of Chivas USA's newcomers and trailists to nail down a spot on the roster for the 2010 season. The roster compliance date was been pushed back from March 1, but teams will still be expected to reach a 24-man roster at some point early this season.
"We want to give opportunities to those about whom we're still not convinced," said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. "But by now, we have a good idea of our main group, and that's the main focus."
Vásquez and his assistant coaches have already made some tough decisions this preseason. Goalkeeper Lance Parker was waived on Feb. 10, and trialists Isaac Kissi and Matt McManus have left camp.
"It's a difficult process," said Vásquez of the cuts. "It's the most difficult part of this job. It's hard because we started with a large group with good quality. Making those decisions will always be hard."
While Chivas USA will be using Saturday's match as just another step in the team's preseason training, the players have no intention of taking it easy on their opponents.
"Every game we go into, we want to get a result," said Braun. "Nobody here wants to lose. That's why we're pro athletes; we have that competitiveness in us.
"We like to go in and play at our level even when we play against these lower-level teams," he continued. "We want to try and play at the level that we need to be at for when the season starts."
The Red-and-White will face the Colorado Rapids in the MLS season opener on Friday, March 26 at The Home Depot Center. Until then, they are squarely focused on getting a victory at Fresno.
"We want to keep working on our football," said Vásquez. "If we go in there thinking that it's going to be an easy game, it's going to be a long night. But we're going there with respect and to take advantage of playing against a team that will challenge us."
Jeffrey King is a contributor to MLSnet.com.