Match Preview: Chivas USA vs. UCLA

UCLA alumni Jimmy Conrad and Greg Vanney preview Saturday's scrimmage against UCLA

CARSON, Calif. (March 4, 2011) - On Saturday night Chivas USA takes on UCLA in a preseason scrimmage exactly two weeks before the season opener against Kansas City. The Goats will be looking to build and improve upon their last performance, a 2-0 loss to Canada’s U-23 team.

UCLA is a college team, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. In their first spring scrimmage on February 12th they beat USL side LA Blues 4-1. The Bruins return all 11 starters from last season- a starting unit that made it to the NCAA Quarterfinals.

After Friday’s training session, cdchivasusa.com caught up with a couple of UCLA alums to talk about Saturday Night’s contest.

Assistant coach Greg Vanney played with current Bruins coach Jorge Salcedo both at UCLA and with the LA Galaxy.

“Jorge is a good friend, so I’m curious to see how UCLA looks and how the team moves under him,” said Vanney. “Once you get into the professional game, it’s hard to really keep track of the college game sometimes. So I haven’t seen UCLA play much over the past ten years. But ultimately our focus is 100% on our team, and making sure we have the pieces in place and are prepared for opening day in a couple of weeks.”

Jimmy Conrad, who won an NCAA championship with UCLA in 1997, said he was excited to play against his college- the place where he really got his start. He fondly recalled the last time he played (and scored) against UCLA, in a scrimmage game with the national team “4 or 5 years ago”.

While Conrad is excited to see some familiar faces on the UCLA coaching staff, the real objective for the scrimmage is building consistency in the Red-and-White’s performance.

“We still have objectives that we want to accomplish,” he said. “Let’s say we have a list of 10 things- I think in the last game [against Canada] we maybe hit 7 or 8 of them, but just fell asleep for a couple plays. Against DC we only hit maybe 5 or 6. So we’ve kind of gone up and down a little bit, and now we’re trying to get some consistency.”

The match-up against UCLA is also an important “dress rehearsal” for the MLS season opener, said Conrad.

“We’re having the game at 7:30 and we’re approaching everything like it’s a real game,” he said. “The focus is on what we’re doing, how we prepare, how much we rest, what kind of food we’re getting. Whether it’s Barcelona or UCLA [it doesn’t matter].”

The match is free and open to the public, and kicks off at 7:30pm in The Home Depot Center’s track and field stadium.