Though it has been more than a year since Chivas USA won a league match away from home, they head into Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls (3 pm ET, UniMas) with a fresh dose of optimism. After all, the Goats produced strong performances in their last two visits to Red Bull Arena back in 2012 (1-1 tie) and 2011 (3-2 win).
“We’ve gone to New York, and I think our record is pretty reasonable,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com. “Certainly since I’ve been here, we’ve done all right there. I have full confidence we can go there and get a result. It’s going to be important that we take a step forward from Dallas.”
Chivas USA’s winless streak in regular-season road games was extended to 16 games last week after the reinvigorated Rojiblancos lost their first road game of the season to FC Dallas, 3-1.
To make matters worse, Chivas USA have been hit hard by injuries and might not have usual starters Bobby Burling and Oswaldo Minda available on Sunday. But psychologically, at least, they see the game against the defending Supporters’ Shield champions as an opportunity.
“The road adds another dimension; it’s obviously tougher on the road,” Chivas assistant coach Paul Caffrey told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve worked a lot on tactics and it’s another opportunity for us. Looking at the Dallas game, we saw some things we need to improve on, and we’re excited we get to go on the road again and try to rectify those issues.”
Some of those issues are injury-related. Minda suffered a right hamstring strain in the first half of last week’s 3-1 loss in Texas, but the holding midfielder has not been ruled out given that he’s recovering quickly and already working out with team trainers, according to a club spokesperson. If Minda cannot start, the Goats believe they have a capable replacement for their rangy midfielder, an area could prove pivotal this week against the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.
“Minda is making progress and, at this point, is probably better than we thought he would be,” Caffrey said. “There’s a possibility that he will be out, but we have Agustín [Pelletieri], who comes back in. Agustín maybe doesn’t have the size [of Minda], but he’s a dynamic, tough player who is more than capable of handling that role.”
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Pelletieri missed last week’s game due to a red-card suspension, which Chivas USA had unsuccessfully appealed. Burling, who used a strong preseason to secure his spot alongside Carlos Bocanegra at the heart of the backline, missed out with right shoulder and elbow injuries, and his status remains undetermined. Second-year man Eriq Zavaleta, on loan from the Seattle Sounders, filled in for Burling with Andrew Jean-Baptiste also held out due to injury.
Chivas USA's last road win in league play (they did earn a road win against the LA Blues in Open Cup play last year) came in their fourth game of last season, a 4-1 rout of the Chicago Fire on March 24, 2013, and Kennedy is hoping the Goats can find another positive road result on Sunday.
“It’s about adapting and getting our new guys – not only to the league but to our team – to understand what it’s like playing on the road,” Kennedy said.