Preview: Chivas USA in D.C. for a must-win match

Chivas USA must take three points in the nation's capital to keep their playoff hopes alive

D.C. UNITED vs CHIVAS USA
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
September 23, 2012 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #281)
4 p.m. PT (Galavisión; CSN-MA)

A bid for a first trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs in five years boosted at midweek, D.C. United return home for a vital match against Chivas USA on Sunday evening at RFK Stadium. United moved back into the top five of the Eastern Conference and the playoff-paying positions on Thursday evening, with a massive 1-0 win at Philadelphia Union. Chivas USA are fighting for their postseason lives after starting their two-game Eastern swing with a 1-0 loss at the Columbus Crew, also at midweek.

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REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. AR1 (bench): Steven Taylor; AR2 (opposite): Kevin Klinger; 4th: Mark Kadlecik

MLS Career: 5 games; FC/gm: 25.6; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 3; pens: 3

INJURY REPORT:

  • D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); MF Stephen King (inguinal hernia repair); FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: MF Marcelo Saragosa (L hamstring strain)
  • CHIVAS USA – OUT: GK Tim Melia (lower back)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: CHV: Oswaldo Minda (caution accumulation; through Sept. 23); James Riley (through Sept. 23)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: DC: Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy, Maicon Santos
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Emiliano Dudar, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic, Bill Hamid, Chris Korb … CHV: Ryan Smith, John Valencia

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (14 meetings): United 7 wins, 24 goals … Chivas USA 4 wins, 19 goals … Ties 3
  • AT RFK STADIUM (7 meetings): United 4 wins, 12 goals … Chivas USA 2 wins, 10 goals … Ties 1

2011 (MLS)

9/10: CHV 0, DC 3 (Davies 11, 15, 66)
9/21: DC 2, CHV 2 (De Rosario 39; White 47 – Angel 57, 69)

  • This is the only meeting this season between the teams.
  • D.C. United have defeated Chivas USA in their last two meetings at RFK Stadium, after Chivas had won on back-to-back visits.
  • The teams met twice last year in the space of less than two weeks during the MLS Cup Playoffs race.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CHV: P3 W1 L1 D1 … Robin Fraser vs. DC: P2 W0 L1 D1

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United went onto the road and came away with a vital victory, getting the game’s only goal in a defeat of Philadelphia Union on Thursday evening at PPL Park. United moved into fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points from 29 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 0, DC 1

  • The game's lone goal came in the 67th minute. Freed from a long ball out of midfield by Maicon Santos, United's Chris Pontius made a move in the box, forced Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to come off his line and fed an open Lionard Pajoy, who took the time to settle the ball and then volley it into an empty net against his former team.
  • United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was credited with five saves for United, who won for a second time this season at PPL Park.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made one change to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium. Lewis Neal came into the team in place of Maicon Santos.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid - Andy Najar, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb - Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal - Nick DeLeon, Branko Boskovic (Maicon Santos 57), Chris Pontius - Lionard Pajoy.

TEAM NEWS

24 Under 24: Perry Kitchen in at No. 8

  • It marked the first consecutive victories since a season-long four-game winning streak May 16-June 16. United had won three of 11 games, going 3-6-2 before the victory vs. New England last weekend.
  • “It wasn’t the greatest performance, but we hung in there,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “We’re really happy to get this monkey off our back.”
  • It also was the first road win for United since their last visit to PPL Park, also a 1-0 victory, coming on June 16. United had lost the six road matches in between.
  • “We had lost the last six games on the road and we’ve been pretty poor all season on the road,” said midfielder Lewis Neal. “We come to our local rivals, which they are now, and to get a 1-0 victory is a massive result.” Added defender Dejan Jakovic: “This is a huge, huge win. We kind of stole one last time we were here. We have four road wins and two are here in Philly.”
  • Lionard Pajoy scored his second goal in seven starts since coming to United, netting against his former club.
  • Chris Pontius continued his recent rich vein of form, collecting his fourth assist of the season. He’s played a part in each of United’s last three goals. He has two goals and three assists over his last 11 games, since a four-goal burst in three games June 16-30.
  • “I saw MacMath come out and I knew I had no angle, so I am just hoping either a trailing guy is coming through or Lio steps back and times his run perfectly and luckily he did the right thing,” said Pontius. “He was so composed on the finish it was unbelievable.”
  • After netting the game-winning goal vs. New England, Lewis Neal was given his first start since Aug. 25, slotting into a central midfield role alongside Perry Kitchen.
  • “We wanted to plug up that middle a bit, and they had a lot of possession, nothing too dangerous, and we were hoping that Maicon (Santos) could come in and when the game opened up and help out,” Olsen said.
  • After starting the game with Branko Boskovic filling an underneath role, Olsen brought on Maicon Santos for the final half-hour, and he made an impression by starting the goal sequence for his third assist of the season.
  • “We’re still trying to find ourselves, as far as life after (Dwayne De Rosario) and our shape, tweaking things,” Olsen said. “I thought for the most part we hung in there early then Maicon (Santos) came in and really helped out, and I thought changed the game.”
  • After the Chivas match, United will have three of their final four games away from RFK Stadium as they chase a first playoff berth since 2007.
  • “We have to start winning on the road. We’ve got two at home and three on the road. We have to take it one game at a time but it’s nice to win on the road,” said Pontius. “I think everyone stuck together, going on the road we have to be a unit, we have to play kind of inside out, be compact make it hard for them to break us down.”

CHIVAS USA

Chivas USA opened their two-game Eastern road swing seeing their winless streak extended to eight games, falling to a late 1-0 defeat by the Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. Chivas USA are in a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 28 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: CLB 1, CHV 0

  • The game's lone goal came in the 89th minute. A cross from Federico Higuaín from the left was touched onto goal by Jairo Arrieta, but Chivas 'keeper Dan Kennedy made the save. But while still prone, Arrieta managed to head the rebound backward into the path of an onrushing Justin Meram, who pounded it home from close range.
  • Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was credited with five saves for the shutout, including one on Oswaldo Minda in the 92nd minute that preserved the win.
  • Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made four changes to the team that went down to a 2-0 defeat by the San Jose Earthquakes at The Home Depot Center. Ante Jazic came in at left back for Jorge Villafana, and Ben Zemanski, Ryan Smith and Alejandro Moreno came in for Shalrie Joseph, Juan Agudelo and Casey Townsend.
  • CHIVAS USA (4-3-2-1): Dan Kennedy - James Riley, John Valencia, Danny Califf, Ante Jazic - Ben Zemanski, Oswaldo Minda, Nick LaBrocca (Jorge Villafana 77) - Ryan Smith (Juan Agudelo 72), Miller Bolanos - Alejandro Moreno (Jose Correa 84)

TEAM NEWS

  • It was a third consecutive loss for Chivas USA, their season-long losing streak this year. Their last victory came July 28 vs. Chivas USA.
  • “We’ve been going through a really rough stretch and I thought we played quite well throughout most of the game. I think we certainly dominated the first half and parts of the second half. This one hurt quite a bit,” said defender Danny Califf.
  • The Chivas scoreless streak was extended to 262 minutes, matching their longest of the season (April 14-May 4) and also tied for eighth-longest in MLS this season.
  • “At times we tried to hit the final pass too soon when we could have sustained some possession on their side of the field a little bit longer and forced them to defend a little bit longer stretches,” Chivas assistant coach Greg Vanney said. “Sometimes we’d get a little bit impatient looking for that one goal because we haven’t found that goal at various times throughout the year so sometimes with our attacks we get a bit impatient.”
  • Vanney handled the bench coaching responsibilities after Robin Fraser was asked to leave the field at halftime of the 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
  • “Even on the bench, you feel like you don’t have a ton of control anyway once the game starts. That’s the great thing about soccer, it’s a game of improvisation. Sitting up in the stands, it was difficult. I guess I really didn’t appreciate how difficult it was going to be,” said Fraser. “Certainly from that high, you get a very good view and you can see little things that we stopped doing that we did very well in the first half that we didn’t do as well in the second half. As a result, we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.”
  • Fraser set out his team in a change of scheme, with Alejandro Moreno playing as a spearhead striker, making his first start and Chivas appearance since Aug. 18.
  • “In the first half especially we were having an excellent performance,” Vanney said. “We were combining well, we were creating a lot of problems. We were getting about the field with a lot of success, moving the ball around and getting in dangerous spots. We had a great start, a very solid first half.”
  • Ryan Smith made his first start since July 21, filling an attacking role from wide positions along with Miller Bolaños.
  • With Shalrie Joseph suspended for yellow card accumulation, Oswaldo Minda returned from a match’s absence to fill the holding role in central midfield.
  • Chivas USA have allowed 14 goals in the final quarter-hour of matches this season, second-most in MLS (behind Montréal’s 16 conceded in that span).
  • “We’re 89th minute and though we need wins, we don’t need losses. It’s frustrating because the guys put in an effort,” Vanney said. “I definitely think we deserved more out of it given the effort and everything. I feel for the guys. When they put in that kind of effort you want to come away with something.”