Goats confident ahead of clash with surging Seattle
CARSON, Calif. — Things are finally starting to click for Chivas USA.
The team has lost just two of its last 10 matches and has earned a spot in the semifinals of the US Open Cup for the first time in club history. Head coach Martín Vásquez has streamlined his roster and added veteran players like Paulo Nagamura, Giancarlo Maldonado, Rodolfo Espinoza and Alan Gordon to help the team end the season on a high note. And young striker Justin Braun has notched seven goals and is tied for fifth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder the Red-and-White are confident heading into Saturday evening’s match against the Seattle Sounders.
“We’ve had some good chemistry and I think that makes it easier to score goals,” Braun said this week. “We feel good.”
The Goats have gotten the better of their matches with Seattle in the past, boasting a 2-0-1 lifetime record against the Sounders. In fact, Chivas are the only team in the Western Conference that has never lost to Seattle.
“They’re a team with a lot of speed that is very competitive,” said Chivas USA midfielder Michael Lahoud. “They’re starting to get back into good form. We have to match their intensity and outcompete them.”
Of primary concern for Chivas on Saturday is slowing down Fredy Montero, the reigning MLS Player of the Month, who has factored into 17 of the side’s 23 goals this season. But also important is shutting down new DPs Álvaro Fernández and Blaise Nkufo. Both are veterans of the 2010 FIFA World Cup (Nkufo with Switzerland and Fernández with Uruguay).
“Fernández is a very technical player; he’s very good on the ball,” said Lahoud. “Nkufo is a strong, experienced player from Europe. It’s not going to be just one guy doing it himself for us. We have to get back to playing for each other. Whether it’s starters or guys coming in off the bench. We just have to keep it tight as a team.”
Chivas suffered their sixth road loss of the season last weekend, dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC at BMO Field. But they seem unfazed by the result and more interested in looking forward.
“[Saturday’s] game is huge,” Lahoud said. “We’re still in the race for the playoffs. It’s a long season, and there’s no time to rest and look back at the past. We just have to keep looking forward. A good result tomorrow sets the tone for the rest of the season.”