CARSON, Calif. — It’s been a difficult week for Chivas USA, but now the Rojiblancos will get their chance to return to the field.
News of forward Marcos Mondaini’s four-game suspension dominated the headlines this week, but now the Goats can move on. The road does not get any easier, however, as the club travels across the country to Red Bull Arena to take on the high-powered New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Red Bull Arena (7 pm ET, Galavisión).
"We’ve had a few interesting challenges of character this year, and this will be another one,” Heath Pearce told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve got a lot of good players and some real difference-makers, guys who can create something out of nothing. As much as they are a team, they also have individuals who are dangerous.”
Chivas USA are forced to make a pair of changes from the side that fell 1-0 to Real Salt Lake as defender Andrew Boyens and Mondaini are suspended for the match.
In Mondaini’s absence, the Rojiblancos will almost certainly call upon Justin Braun to play alongside Alejandro Moreno up top. Braun has spent a great deal of time during the week working with the MLS veteran as they prepare for the Red Bulls.
In the back line, Chivas USA have a number of options to replace Boyens. The return of Michael Lahoud may allow the converted midfielder to play right back, freeing rookie Zarek Valentin to play partner up with Pearce in central defense.
This duo will be key as the Rojiblancos look to stop a high octane Red Bulls attack that boasts an energized Thierry Henry. The Frenchman has scored four times in his last four matches after just two goals in his first 15.
Although there will be plenty of big names on the field for the Red Bulls, be they Henry or defender Rafa Márquez, Chivas are focused simply on playing their own game.
“We try to play to our strengths; our job isn’t to focus on them, it is to just focus on ourselves,” said Pearce. “We just need to focus on playing well.”
For a Rojiblancos side that is eager to make a statement to the league, a result under the bright lights of Red Bull Arena may be just what they need.
"New York is one of the top teams, but I believe that we're one of the top teams, too," said Braun. "Our record may not show it, but we're progressing and this is group that can compete against any team.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano