Vasquez Happy With Defensive Progress
Much has been made about Chivas USA's renewed dedication to attacking soccer in
2010, and rightfully so. The team has scored an impressive 30 goals in 13
preseason scrimmages and boasts a strong 7-2-4 record during that time.
But while new head coach Martín Vásquez has made no secret of his desire to
improve the club's offensive prowess, he has by no means forgotten about the
Red-and-White defensive corps. The team has conceded just ten goals in 990
minutes of preseason play and already earned six shutouts.
"I think we're solid back there," said Vásquez. "We have two solid
goalkeepers and a great defensive line. Everyone has done well. If we balance
the defense well with the whole team attacking, I think we have a good chance to
The Red-and-White defense has been one of the best in MLS over the course of
the last four seasons, allowing an average of just 35.5 goals per season since
2006. Only Houston has done better, allowing an average of 31 goals per season
in that time.
"This club has always been about defense and I don't think we're going to
stray too far away from that," said left-back Ante Jazic. "Martín likes to play
an attacking brand of soccer, but he's definitely not going to forget about the
Jazic has stepped into a leadership role for the Chivas USA defense this
year. The 34-year-old Canadian International's form has been impressive thus far
in 2010, and has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.
"Ante Jazic has been impressive in preseason," said Vásquez. "He gives us
real leadership back there."
Also helping the Chivas USA defensive cause has been the return of goalkeeper
Dan Kennedy. The Yorba Linda native spent the entirety of last season on the
sidelines with a knee injury, but looks to have beat out Jon Conway for the
number-two spot this year behind probable starter 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the
Year Zach Thornton.
"Kennedy has worked his butt off in preseason," said Vásquez. "He has been
very consistent, and he looks sharp. And with Zach coming back from an injury
that he took with the National Team, we feel comfortable to have two very good
Kennedy has been the go-to guy for many of the Red-and-White's preseason
scrimmages, most recently playing a full 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw with the
Fresno Fuego on March 6th and the 5-0 victory over UCLA on March 10th.
"I'm glad the coaching staff kept an open mind with me," said Kennedy of
coming back from injury. "I'm thrilled to be here. I just want to show up and do
my job; hopefully my work will speak for itself."
With Thornton still recovering from a thigh strain he picked up at a US
National Team Camp in February, it's unclear who will get the start for the
Chivas USA season opener against Colorado on March 26th.
"It's too soon to say," said Vásquez. "We want to make sure, in every
position on the field, that everybody is at one hundred percent. With the
goalkeepers, whoever is at 100% and is sharpest, that player will start."
Whoever is between the sticks on opening day, it's likely that Chivas USA
will likely continue to be stingy when it comes to conceding goals.
"Our defense has been solid and we're going to continue with that," said
Jazic. "Obviously, we want to score more goals than we did last year, so we're
focusing a lot on the attack, but I think the defense will be fine."