Goats' Thornton makes difference in return
CARSON, Calif. – After four weeks out, Zach is back.
Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton returned to the starting XI against Seattle on Saturday evening after a high-ankle sprain had kept him on the sidelines for a month. The 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was strong in his first start back, earning his third shutout of the season and making an incredible 88th-minute save on Osvaldo Alsonso to help earn a point for the Goats.
He came out big and kept a zero,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. “And that shot from Osvaldo Alsonso – huge save. It could have been the difference.”
Thornton had been the Red-and-White’s first choice ‘keeper all season before he was subbed out of the team’s game against Kansas City in the 30th minute with the sprain. Saturday’s game was his first at the Home Depot Center since June 26.
“It was tough coming back after four weeks off, getting up to game speed and everything,” said Thornton after Saturday’s game. “But the guys in front of me did a great job. They really played a good, hard game.”
Thornton endured a frightening moment in his return when he collided in mid-air with Seattle striker Fredy Montero near the end of the first half. Both players landed awkwardly on the ground and it was six minutes before both were ready to play once more.
“We both went for the ball and we both missed it and hit each other,” said Thornton of the incident. “You have to expect contact and prepare yourself for it. Sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you expect it.
“On my end, both of my contact lenses came out. That was what was taking the most time to get back into the game.”
Chivas USA looked destined for a victory against the Sounders as the game’s second half wore on, but could manage only a 0-0 draw against Blaise Nkufo & Co. Thornton is happy to have kept a clean sheet, but disappointed in the result.
“Every time you step on the field, a shutout is what you’re trying to do,” Thornton said. “It’s good to get one, it helps, but we need results any way we can get them right now. It would have been nice to get [a win] tonight.”
Thornton and the rest of the Goats will travel to Dallas this Saturday to take on one of MLS’ hottest teams as the Red-and-White push for a fifth consecutive playoff appearance.