Los Angeles Soccer: Bradford Jamieson
Chivas USA won't play its U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Home Depot Center, opting to return to Cal State Fullerton, where the Goats last played a home game in the competition.
The club Thursday confirmed that Titan Stadium would be the site of the June 26 clash with the Charlotte Eagles, a third-division club that plays in the USL Pro. Chivas has won road games against the fourth-tier Ventura County Fusion and second-division Carolina RailHawks in its first two games in the competition.
U.S. Soccer, which must approve all venues, had announced the game would be held at HDC, but Chivas' website listed the site as undetermined until this week.
The Goats beat the second-tier Austin Aztex, 1-0, at Fullerton in a third-round game en route to the 2010 semifinals. Their only other home game in the 99-year-old competition was played in Goleta, at UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium. Dallas-based amateurs Roma FC advanced on penalties after a scoreless draw.
Chivas also played a 2008 SuperLiga game against the New England Revolution, a 1-1 draw, at Fullerton.
Titan Stadium, which seats 10,000, is a more intimate venue than HDC, and the rent is cheaper. It was universally considered Southern California's best smaller soccer venue (and, thus, best soccer venue) for more than a decade and has been No. 2 on the list since HDC opened in 2003.
As much as the Ventura County Fusion want to beat Chivas USA in their U.S. Open Cup clash, impressing their guest might be more important.
A berth in the fourth round of America's oldest soccer competition, possibly against the Galaxy, awaits the winner of Tuesday night's showdown at Ventura College, but the Fusion's stars are looking for something more.
A strong showing against Major League Soccer competition could mean opportunities to play in the top league, perhaps for Chivas, and the Fusion's top players -- many of them with pro experience -- are looking to show what they can do.
“Not just for me, but for all the guys playing PDL,” Rodrigo Lopez, the former Chivas/Portland Timbers midfielder who runs the Fusion's attack, told ESPN Los Angeles after Ventura's second-round upset last week over the L.A. Blues. “I think in our situation, it's a good opportunity to show something and to get looked at. Not just to win and keep going -- that's our main goal -- but a lot of guys, that's the way to the main teams, to the MLS teams.”
Lopez (Santa Barbara/Santa Barbara HS) has the most extensive MLS experience among the Fusion -- he spent two seasons with the Goats, was with Portland last year and in March played for Chivas in a reserve friendly-- but it's a roster filled with prospects.
Holding midfielder Daniel Steres (Calabasas/Calabasas HS), a supplemental draft pick, and winger Kennedy Chongo (Biola University) spent preseason with the Goats. Center back Tim Pontius (Yorba Linda/Servite HS and UC Santa Barbara) was a Seattle Sounders draft pick; his older brother, Chris, is a D.C. United star.
Travis Bowen (Van Nuys/Chatsworth HS), Chivas forward Tristan Bowen's older brother, has been pursuing the pro game around the world. He's coming off a hat trick in the Fusion's Premier Development League victory Saturday over La Mirada's Southern California Seahorses.
“He deserves it more than anybody ...,” said Tristan Bowen, who can't play in the game -- his loan deal to Belgium doesn't officially end until the summer transfer window opens June 27 -- but will be there to watch. “The only reason I started playing was because of him. He wandered off after school one day into a playground, and he was playing soccer, and it just kind of stuck. I wasn't very good. He was always better than me, but sometime around 12 or 13 I started scoring a lot of goals.”
Travis, 22, is “talking a little bit already” about the game, but Tristan, 21, has so far declined to respond. “I don't want him to do bad,” Tristan said, “but I'm in a weird position, you know? ... That would be nice if it's like a 4-3 game where Chivas wins and Travis scores another hat trick. That's an ideal world.”
The Fusion went unbeaten against MLS clubs during preseason, with a 1-0 win over Chivas and scoreless draws with Houston and Chicago.