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New-ish arrivals pace Chivas USA win
by Ridge Mahoney, March 24th, 2008 9:52AM
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TAGS:  mls


[MLS] Four different players scored for Chivas USA in their preseason finale, a 4-1 triumph over Honduran club Real Espana at Cal State Fullerton Saturday, and all four, in a way, were newcomers.

Francisco Mendoza and Alecko Eskandarian, sidelined by injuries for most of the preseason, marked their returns with goals; the others were scored by Atiba Harris, acquired from Real Salt Lake during the offseason, and 2008 SuperDraft pick Keith Savage.

Harris and Eskandarian are being counted on for depth up front to avoid a recurrence of last year, when late-season injuries to Ante Razov and Maykel Galindo derailed Chivas USA in the playoffs, a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Kansas City, the first time all season Chivas USA had been blanked in back-to-back games.

Eskandarian scored 10 regular-season goals and four more in the playoffs as D.C. United won the 2004 championship, but in the last three seasons he's suffered concussions and other injuries while scoring just nine goals. Chivas USA is his fourth team in the last two years.

Harris scored four goals in 22 games two years ago playing mostly at forward in his debut MLS season, but garnered just one assist in 21 games last year while wandering as a central midfielder. Restored to a forward position, he has the power and pace to cause problems, especially running at tired defenders as a sub. Harris scored the first Chivas USA goal by heading in a Razov cross and earned an assist on Mendoza's tally.

Galindo is recovering from sports hernia surgery and didn't play against Real España, so he may not be ready to go a full 90 minutes when the season kicks off this weekend.

Coach Preki has added depth in other areas as well, signing Raphael Wicky and bringing back Mendoza to shore up midfield, and nabbing Fire veteran Jim Curtin and ex-Galaxy defender Eric Ebert in trades as cover in the back.

Alex Zotinca suffered a partial ACL tear in his right knee March 5 at the Texas Pro Soccer Festival and may miss the entire season, so more bodies are needed as Lawson Vaughn figures to get most of the minutes at right back.

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