New faces in defense
PORTLAND, Ore. (Tuesday, March 29, 2011) - Chivas USA takes on the Portland Timbers on Tuesday night, and will do so with a new-look defense. Center back Jimmy Conrad, who played 90 minutes in each of the first two matches of the season, was diagnosed with a mild concussion after Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids and did not make the trip to the Pacific Northwest.
While Conrad is out due to injury, the Red-and-White are also without central defense options Michael Umaña and Zarek Valentin, who are both with national teams. Umaña is with Costa Rica, who hosts Argentina on Wednesday in San Jose, Costa Rica, while Valentin is with the United States Under-20 National Team, which makes its CONCACAF Championship debut on Wednesday against Suriname in Guatemala.
However, Chivas USA has seen big central defender Andrew Boyens return from international duty with his native New Zealand, and is an option for the Red-and-White on the back line. Ben Zemanski, normally a central midfielder, made an impressive debut on Saturday against Colorado playing alongside Conrad in central defense, and could feature there again. Ghanaian defender Seth Owusu also has experience in the middle.
In addition to having options in the middle of defense, the Red-and-White also have several players who can play on the outside. Heath Pearce has featured in both of the team’s first two games on the right, with Ante Jazic on the left. Owusu is another wide option, and Mariano Trujillo played most of the last two seasons for Chivas USA on the right.
No matter who ends up forming the backline on Tuesday night, it will be a different group than has played either of the first two matches for Chivas USA. Experience, however, shouldn’t be an issue; with the exception of Zemanski, all of the players available to Head Coach Robin Fraser have experience with their national teams.