Chivas USA hampered by international call-ups

With three defenders away, Fraser forced to reach into his bench

International fixture days typically do a number on MLS sides, and this weekend, Chivas USA will be no different.

The Rojiblancos have lost three members of their defense to international duty. The call-ups come at a difficult time, as Chivas USA hope to rebound from an opening loss to Sporting Kansas City by trying to earn a result against defending MLS Cup champions Colorado Rapids.

Perhaps the most notable absence will be Zarek Valentin. The versatile rookie has joined the US U-20 squad that will play in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship starting next week. If the US go the distance, it’s Valentin will likely miss the matches against Colorado on March 26 as well as the away match at Toronto the week after.

In addition to Valentin, Michael Umana (Costa Rica) and Andrew Boyens (New Zealand) will be off with their respective nations this weekend.

It is likely that one of these two will take a position alongside Jimmy Conrad in central defense after their international duties have been fulfilled. However, the absences will force head coach Robin Fraser to reach into his bench for backup.

Here is a look at three men who could see action in the Goats' back line in the coming weeks:

Seth Owusu

The Ghanaian “Man-Mountain” of a defender is the most likely to partner with Conrad when Chivas USA face the Rapids. Owusu went 90 minutes in Tuesday’s scrimmage with local college side Loyola Marymount, playing at center back as well as his natural left back position.

The burly Ghanaian has played primarily at center back for Chivas USA during practice, looking more than capable of taking on the position. To pair with his impressive physical attributes, Owusu is also an attacking threat with his ability to play the ball forward and create scoring opportunities.

Mariano Trujillo

The 2010 captain was a staple for the Rojiblancos along the right flank last season. Prior to the acquisition of Heath Pearce, Trujillo was seen as a potential option at right back should Valentin play alongside Conrad in the center.

A veteran of the Mexican league and one of the longest tenured members of the team, Trujillo has done a great deal to provide guidance to many of the new acquisitions while finding fewer opportunities on the field. His leadership both on and off the field just may be rewarded with playing time in the coming weeks.

Michael Lahoud

Perhaps the most intriguing of the group, Lahoud saw time at right back during the match with LMU. A natural holding midfielder, Lahoud impressed Fraser with his ability to handle the position, which seems to fit well with his ability to defend and play on the wing, something Lahoud did frequently during 2010.

Chivas USA currently have a wealth of holding midfielders – Simon Elliott, Paulo Nagamura, Nick LaBrocca and Ben Zemanski among others – so it’s a possibility that Lahoud may find more playing opportunities in the back.

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano