Thornton pleased with season debut

Chivas USA keeper returns from injury to log clean sheet vs. NY

Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton is no stranger to

The 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year earned 12 clean sheets
last season, two more than the next best tally. His goals-against average of
.87 was the second lowest mark of all time.

Last Saturday, in his first start of the 2010 season,
Thornton returned to familiar territory, minding the net for the
Red-and-White’s 2-0 shutout victory against New York at the Home Depot Center.

“That was the start of my season, so I’m glad it was a good
one,” said Thornton after the win. “There’s always some nerves before you first
game of the season, but once the game got underway, I felt really comfortable.”

The 36-year-old ‘keeper looked solid in his debut, plucking
a few good crosses out of the air and parrying a number of long shots over the
crossbar. He even had a hand in creating the team’s second goal, sending a long
goal kick up the field to Jesús Padilla that started the breakaway.

“It was late in the game, so we didn’t want to be playing
out of the back,” said Thornton of the 91st-minute strike. “I just went long
and he knocked it down and went from there.”

Thornton had sustained a thigh injury during U.S. National
Team Camp in February that had prevented him from playing in the first two
games of the season. Now healthy, he looks poised for another strong season.

“I feel pretty good,” said Thornton. “The new system looks
good. We’re all getting on the same page now, which is the most important

One of Thornton’s tasks for 2010 will be to get acquainted
with new Chivas USA center-backs Michael Umaña and Darío Delgado. The three
will likely form the core of the Red-and-White defensive unit this season and
will need to be on the same page.

Although, if Saturday’s match is any indication, they should
be fine.

“It went well,” said Thornton of playing with Umaña and
Delgado, neither of whose first language is English. “Even in practice, it’s
just kind of clicked. Soccer is soccer. We’re all trying to do the same things.
Even in a different language, it’s pretty similar.”

Chivas USA now prepare for a road trip to Houston on
Saturday, where Thornton will square off against another two-time MLS
Goalkeeper of the Year in Pat Onstad.

And while Thornton would certainly love another shutout, he’d
be happy with just a plain old victory as well.

“A win is a win,” he said. “We’ll take three points any way
we can get them.”