CARSON -- Next season has begun for Chivas USA, which already is in assessment mode -- with Robin Fraser and his staff determining who will return in 2012, who won't, and who might be worth bringing in.
There's still one game left on the schedule, Saturday night against Seattle at Home Depot Center, but it means nothing in the grand scheme, not much more than Tuesday's MLS Reserve League clash with Vancouver, a 1-0 triumph claimed on Victor Estupiñan's goal near the end of the first half.
Most newsworthy was a second-half appearance by French midfielder Nicolas Dieuze, a 32-year-old midfielder who has played alongside assistant coach Greg Vanney and midfielder Laurent Courtois.
Dieuze, out of contract since his pact with Grenoble Foot 38 expired last spring, came on at halftime for Mariano Trujillo and fared well in his first real action for the Goats.
“Where we are, we're open to everything, and we're looking at everyone,” Fraser said. “We're going to look at everything we can see, everything we think might be worthwhile. With Nicolas, the opportunity to look at him came up, and we figured we'd take it.”
Dieuze played with Courtois at Toulouse from 1999 to 2001, then was Vanney's teammate at Bastia from 2001 through 2003. He then returned to Toulouse for five years, spent a season with Le Havre and two at Grenoble.
“I think he's an excellent two-way midfielder,” Vanney said. “He's an interesting player. We're always looking to gain some experience and look at players who can maybe help our team in the future.”
Dieuze, a forward at Bastia, was converted to a midfielder in his second stint at Toulouse, and Vanney said he has been interested in coming to Major League Soccer for the last 18 months. Chivas looked at him last spring.
“It was a challenge [during the] summer window, with us trying to go after our needs and fill holes,” Vanney said. “And now coming to the end of the season, starting a new season, we're taking a look at all players, and he being one of them. He's an interesting player. He was always one of the fitter players -- he's a guy who can cover ground. Extremely fit, hard-nosed, yet has technique. He's a leader, was a captain at Toulouse for a while and helped them into the [UEFA] Champions League.
“We're just looking at our options going into the future, and it would be crazy not to look at those, and relationships are always good. Because I know him as a person, that makes us much more comfortable with him.”
WORTH NOTING: Estupiñan scored in the 40th minute with a close-range blast from a Chris Cortez feed that Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly couldn't turn aside. ... Academy midfielder Marco Delgado (Glendora/Glendora HS) was in Chivas' starting lineup, and so was Pablo Cruz, a diminutive forward/midfielder from Azusa who spent some time in the U.S. under-17 national team's residency in Bradenton, Fla. ... Other academy players on the field for the Goats were U-17 national-team star Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale/Bell Gardens HS), Ben Spencer and Stephen Copley. ... Vanney, wearing a No. 3 jersey, went 90 minutes in central defense. It was all about how thin the Goats are at the back. Said Vanney: “With Heath [Pearce] coming back from injury and Michael Umaña being out, and a couple reserve games ago we played [forward] Chris Cortez at center back -- that's not good for the other team, and it's not good for Chris or our team. I train with the guys during the course of the week anyways, so I figured I'd just jump in to get guys in their regular positions.” ... Chivas (3-3-3) is third in the MLS Reserve League's West Division with one game to go, Sunday at HDC against Seattle, which has already clinched the divisional title. Vancouver (2-6-2) is fifth. ... Midfielder Simon Elliott departed early because of a thigh injury.
Home Depot Center Track and Field Stadium (Carson)
Chivas USA 1, Vancouver Whitecaps 0
C -- Victor Estupiñan (Chris Cortez) 40
Chivas USA: Zach Thornton; Mariano Trujillo (Nicolas Dieuze, 46), Greg Vanney, David Junior Lopes (Stephen Copley, 72), Jorge Flores; Blair Gavin, Simon Elliott (Esteban Rodriguez, 10), Victor Estupiñan, Marco Delgado; Chris Cortez, Pablo Cruz (Ben Spencer, 70). Unused subs: Sergio Arias.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Jay Nolly; Bilal Duckett (Bryce Alderson, 46), Greg Janicki, Omar Elmasri (Ben Fisk, 72), Alexandre Morfaw; Philippe Davies, Michael Nanchoff, Peter Vagenas, Davide Chiumiento (Caleb Clarke, 77); Omar Salgado, Eric Hassli.
Yellow cards: Lopes 37, Hassli 37, Salgado 87, 88. Red card: Salgado 88.
Referee: Magic Berendji. Att.: 60 (estimate).
1. Seattle 8-1-0, 24 points
2. Portland 6-2-2, 20
4. Chivas USA 3-3-3, 12
3. San Jose 3-4-1, 10
5. Vancouver 2-6-2, 8
6. Galaxy 1-6-2, 5