[MLS TV PREVIEW]
Since day one of the preseason, the theme of Chivas
USA's 2007 season has been maintaining the progress it achieved in 2006 despite a coaching change and the departure of two Mexican star attackers. In the third year
of its existence Chivas USA is butting up against the top tier of MLS, and can crack through the barrier separating it from the elite teams this week when it plays D.C. United (Thursday) and Red
Bull New York (Sunday) at the Home Depot Center, where it has posted the league's best home record (7-0-1). Critics of MLS wondering how the league can showcase itself without David Beckham
should tune in to this national telecast on Thursday night. CHIVAS USA (11-6-3) vs. D.C. UNITED (13-6-3)
Thursday, 10:30 pm ET, ESPN2
striker Maykel Galindo
has off set the losses of Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia by scoring 10 goals, including one in a 2-1 Chivas USA loss to D.C. United May 6.
has taken over from head coach Bob Bradley preaching the same reliance on fluid soccer and defensive commitment. Chivas USA has shut out 10 opponents this
season and has conceded just two goals in home games.
Galindo is quicker than most MLS players, so United central defenders Bobby Boswell
must make sure there is cover if Galindo is leading the line. Roaming underneath Galindo as the second forward, Ante Razov has scored six goals and assisted on the same number.
The game is just as vital for D.C., which is tied with New England at the top of the Eastern Standings and hosts the Revs Sunday. It has never lost to Chivas USA in five meetings and
won, 2-1, at RFK on May 6 with goals from Christian Gomez
and Jaime Moreno
. It has won six games in a row while allowing only one goal.
, who took over when Peter Nowak left to work with Bradley for the national team, has changed the United system from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2.
tinkering with the central defensive tandem, but used Vanney and Boswell to good effect last week in a 4-0 rout of Dallas. Clyde Simms has taken over a central holding role from Brian Carroll to
buttress an interchanging midfield that has provided enough service for forwards Luciano Emilio
and Moreno to amass a combined 18 goals.
The Chivas USA middle is
patrolled by midfielders Jesse Marsch
and Paulo Nagamura
. Their staunch work has enabled 38-year-old central defender Claudio Suarez
to use his
experience and timing to defuse situations.
After playing centrally his rookie season, midfielder Sacha Kjlestan
has adjusted well to the right side, though his
defensive chores in this game could entail duels with Fred
, Gomez and Ben Olsen
. The mobility and cohesiveness of that trio has totaled a combined 18 goals and 14
Left back Marc Burch can be expected to deliver quality balls up the flank and occasionally push forward, so Kljestan will need help.
Bradley did both teams a
favor by not summoning any of their players for the USA-Brazil friendly Sunday, so Jonathan Bornstein
(Chivas USA) and Olsen are in their respective teams.
USA right back Alex Zotinca is still suspended for his head-butt on Kevin Harmse of the Galaxy two weeks ago, but Lawson Vaughn
has played that position with speed and