CARSON, Calif. – The scoreline wasn’t favorable – a 2-0 loss to the Canadian U-23 team on Tuesday afternoon in a scrimmage – but the vibe around Chivas USA camp remained positive.
After failing to create many scoring chances against D.C. United on last Friday, the Chivas USA attack created numerous chances before falling behind late in the first half and then conceding a second goal towards the end of the match.
The Rojiblancos continued to struggle to score goals, having now not scored in the last two preseason scrimmages. However, with Chivas USA dominant in the first half and the first team creating numerous chances, head coach Robin Fraser admitted he was pleased with his team’s development with the opening match a scant 18 days away.
“I think it was probably the best 45 to 50 minutes that we’ve seen all preseason,” Fraser said. “It’s disappointing to lose a game that you think you clearly should win, but in the end of the day I’m happy with the progress. … Today, we were extremely dynamic in the attacking part of the field and create some good chances.”
Much of the Goats' spark came from Argentine Marcos Mondaini, who was signed by the club on a season-long loan on Tuesday from Uruguayan club CA Fénix. Mondaini most recently played for Colombian club Atlético Nacional.
During the match against the Canadians, he spent time behind the strikers playing a central midfield role similar to the one that he has played during his time in South America. He was able to link successfully a number of times as Chivas USA pushed forward until he was subbed off at the start of the second half.
Fraser admitted that Mondaini has been on his radar for the past several years during Fraser’s time with Real Salt Lake. The Argentine midfielder joins the club after being scouted by Chivas USA assistant coach Carlos Llamosa and after the consultation of his few friends, fellow Argentines and Boca Juniors alums Fabian Espindola and Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
[inline_node:329687]Players from South America have traditionally suffered in the physical MLS, but Mondaini is confident that he can follow in the example of his own friends and succeed in the league.
“I know that this is a hard and competitive league that is growing every more, and from what I hear it is very complicated to play here,” said Mondaini. “My idea is to contribute as much as I can at the attack and help in defense.”
In addition to the announcement of Mondaini, Chivas USA released forward Stern John and defender Jimmy Asprilla from camp while defender Carlos Borja was waived. Asprilla had impressed during his time in camp, but it is believed monetary issues, as well as the club’s dwindling roster spots, made a deal impossible.
The addition of John caused quite a stir when it was revealed that the World Cup veteran was training with the club, but Fraser admitted that John was still in the midst of a recovery from a recent ACL injury and not yet at full strength. Despite the injury, the Chivas USA boss did not close the door on any inclusion later in the season should John’s situation improve.
“He had some good moments and he’s Stern John — he’s as comfortable inside the box as any forward — but physically he wasn’t quite ready yet,” said Fraser. “We left it open ended. We’d love to see him get healthy and see what happens at that point, but for now we’ve let him go.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano
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