Know Your Enemy: Chivas USA
Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
It has been nearly two months since FC Dallas (3-9-4, 13 points) recorded their last win – a home date with the latest MLS expansion club, the Montreal Impact. The club returns to FC Dallas Stadium after a rough outing in Houston last weekend to host Western Conference rivals Chivas USA (5-7-3, 18 points).
Chivas is coming off a short turn around as they hosted the Impact on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The Goats rode goals from Alejandro Moreno and Juan Pablo Angel to a 2-1 victory.
The Red-and-White is doing well away from home this season picking up big wins in Salt Lake and Portland. They’re currently 3-1-2 away from the Home Depot Center this season.
Dallas won both matches with Chivas last season, beating Robin Fraser’s club 1-0 in the lone meeting at FC Dallas Stadium.
Big names up front
Fraser has a couple big names leading his attack this season. US National Team striker Juan Agudelo recently came over from the New York Red Bulls is doing well as he has already contributed a goal and an assist.
This will be Agudelo’s second trip to Frisco this season; he started for the Red Bulls back in March at First Kick.
Agudelo will be paired up top with Angel, with Moreno sitting behind the two in a withdrawn attacker role. Moreno filled in for Nick LaBrocca who normally sits in behind the two attackers in Fraser’s four-man midfield. The 2011 MLS All Star is currently out with a hamstring injury.
Fraser also has Jose Correa and Casey Townsend as options up top. Correa is tied with Angel for the club’s leading scorer at three goals. He was held out of Wednesday’s game with Montreal, though, as he’d been battling a hamstring strain.
Angel will continue to be the focal point in the attack for Chivas. He also leads the club in shots on goal and has always done well at finding ways to position himself to score a goal.
Chivas also uses their wing play in their attack with Ben Zemanski on the left wing and Paolo Cardozo on the right.
Chivas in defense
The Chivas defense is slowly resembling their boss in how he used to play – tough, physical and always in your face. They have a few cagey veterans in the defense that lead this charge and are improving each game.
Danny Califf came over a few weeks ago in a trade with Philadelphia and has already become a good force in the center of the defense with Rauwshan McKenzie. Califf is the type of defender that can be all over the place – Dallas would be wise to force him into mistakes early to get his head out of the game.
Chivas has two good veteran fullbacks as well with Ante Jazic on the left and James Riley on the right. Riley came over to Chivas back at the Expansion Draft last November, the former Seattle Sounder has started every game this season for Chivas.
In goal is arguable one of the league’s best and most underrated keepers in Dan Kennedy. The 29-year old netminder has three shutouts on the season and is near the top of the league in total saves.
Keys to three points
As mentioned, Chivas has no fear away from their home stadium. Fraser knows how to get the best of his club in unfamiliar grounds.
The thing Dallas needs to key in on is using a possession game along with some good tempo to make Chivas chase the game. Chivas will be coming in on short rest after playing Wednesday night against Montreal and will have to turn around and play on Tuesday in the US Open Cup quarterfinals at home against Charlotte. Dallas will want to capitalize on tired legs.
Chivas will be missing their best linking midfielder in LaBrocca as well, so occupying the midfield and being smart with the ball will go a long way in this one. With the diamond midfield being used, Dallas must use the full width of the field to stretch out their wingers.
Dallas needs to end this current 10-game slump and Chivas may be the perfect team to do it against.