Thursday, September 18, 2008

A View From the Other Side: RSL vs CD Chivas USA

A View From the Other Side
Real Salt Lake -vs- CD Chivas USA
Courtesy of Chivas USA fan Stephen Schaller

To say Chivas' season has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. I'm half-expecting a re-brand and/or clearing out of the entire coaching staff - at this point, nothing would surprise me.

Lack of depth is an issue at every MLS club and it seemed that this problem was addressed by the Goats in the off-season. Unfortunately, acquisitions like Raphael Wicky and Alecko Eskandarian haven't seen the pitch much, nearly every player has spent at least a few weeks nursing injuries, Brad Guzan was sold for a song with no adequate replacement, and Sasha Kljestan has been on Nats duty nearly as much as he's been playing for his club.

Really, these aren't excuses, but I've never seen a club deal with an injury crisis like the Goats' 2008 season. Razov, Galindo, Bornstein, Wicky, Vaughn, Zotinca, Talley, Eskandarian, and Marsch have all been out for substantial portions of the season, if not all of it.

We go into our clash with Real Salt Lake a point back of them, locked in a battle for second place. Up nine points, Houston is highly unlikely to be caught and both RSL and Chivas are in a battle to make the playoffs. It goes without saying that every game from here on out will be played like a must-win and I fully expect Chivas to attack.

Lineups have been erratic lately, due to all the injuries as well as inconsistent performances. Dan Kennedy has officially replaced Zach "the snack" Thornton in goal, much to the delight of Goats fans. Kennedy is big, athletic, and aggressive, similar in many ways to Brad Guzan, though clearly a notch below the Villa keeper. He had a few gaffes in his debut but has since been solid.

Preki also put Panchito Mendoza in the middle of the park last game, a questionable move at the time, but his hand was pretty much forced due to injuries. He'll probably move back to the left side, preferably on the back line behind Johnny Bornstein.

Chivas made two deadline day acquisitions - Sasha Victorine, a well-known quantity in the league and some Brazilian named Dejair, who Chivas fans have less info about than the GOP had on Sarah Palin. You'd be hard-pressed to find many fans that are excited about the signings.

Atiba Harris has been the lone bright spot on the team of late and he's the one player who's been durable. He continues to improve and holds the ball up well. Razov is still a bit out of form, and the season seems to be taking a toll on him, but he's one of the few players on our team capable of putting the ball in the net. Nagamura is his usual terrier-like self and will no doubt go the full 90. Kljestan is among the best players in MLS and will be relied upon for creativity and service to the forwards. Still, it's been awhile since he's suited up for the rojo y blancos so it might take him a game or two to settle back in.

The injury list is, like all MLS injury reports, a bit baffling. Galindo is out, along with the usual suspects, but the real head-scratcher is Jesse Marsch, whose listed as "probable". I can't really see him getting any time, as he's still recovering from a fractured jaw, but predicting MLS lineups is a fool's errand. Regardless, here's mine:

Prediction: 2-1 RSL, with Razov to get a 60th minute consolation goal.