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Thursday, January 26, 2012
CHIVAS USA: Oxnard finale a foundation

By Scott French

Chivas USA heads into its first preseason encounter Friday looking to build a foundation for further growth. The first two weeks of Goats camp primarily has been about fitness, of course, so there's no expectations of anything like a finished product when they take on the Ventura County Fusion at Oxnard College.

The 10 a.m. game, the first of nine preseason matches on the Goats' schedule, will primarily provide an opportunity to work on “our eam concepts and be able to execute certain things that are important to execute as a group,” head coach Robin Fraser said.

That's in keeping with his plan, which he took last weekend to Oxnard for a week's encampment that was designed to “narrow focus even more on short-term and long-term objectives. When you're in a captive state, you really get to focus as a group on the objectives.”

Many of those objectives are esoteric, having to do with team movement and philosophies and deepening the club's newcomers' understanding of the culture Fraser and his staff began introducing a year ago.

“We had certain objectives in mind about where we want to go where we want to be by the end of the first two weeks, and certainly we'd like to meet those objectives,” said Fraser, who declined to identify these objectives. “We have certain objectives as a team that we specifically want o get out of [Friday's] game, things hat are important for us to start to grasp and embrace as a team. ... Certain general objectives and ideals we want to be team-wide sooner than later, and then from that we can build on the specifics of what we want to be.”

The Goats have a week until their next game, and then it's a match every few days until a week before the March 11 Major League Soccer opener against Houston at Home Depot Center.

VALENCIA ARRIVES: Veteran defender John Alexander Valencia, signed from Colombian club Junior, has arrived in camp, and he's already making an impression.

Fraser says the center back, expected to battle for a starting job with Heath Pearce and David Junior Lopes, is “confident. You can tell he's experienced, not afraid to direct people, and it's not about knowing people or not knowing people, just knowing the way the game is played. ... He's shown some tenacity in defending and come confidence and comfort level with the ball.”

WORTH NOTING: First-round draft pick Casey Townsend is nursing a hamstring injury. ... Alejandro Moreno returned Thursday to the Goats after playing for Venezuela in friendlies against the U.S. in Glendale, Ariz., and Mexico in Houston, both losses. Pearce returns from the U.S. national team and Jorge Villafaņa from the U.S. under-23 team. ... UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who had been on trial in Finland, arrived Wednesday in Oxnard to join the Goats' camp. ... Fellow supplementary draft pick Fabian Kling, a defender who was the NCAA Division II Player of the Year after leading Fort Lewis to the title, will train Monday for the first time with the club. ... Oswaldo Minda was due to join preparations Thursday, and fellow Ecuadoran midfielder Miller Bolaņos is expected to arrive this weekend. ... Zambian forward Kennedy Chongo, who played at Biola University and with the PDL's Southern California Seahorses, is on trial.

ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...