Los Angeles Soccer: Diego Chaves
One of Chivas USA's open goalkeeper slots is going to Tim Melia, a two-year Real Salt Lake backup who has seen far more action from loan deals than in Major League Soccer.
The Goats have signed the 25-year-old netminder but have not yet announced the deal, a club official confirmed.
Melia, a third-string keeper at RSL, did not appear for the Utahns' first team, but he was on several 18-man game rosters last season and made seven appearances in the MLS Reserve League.
Melia, who played collegiately at Oneonta State and Lynn, Fla., joined RSL in 2010 after two seasons with the second-tier Rochester Rhinos. He spent most of 2010 on loan to the Charleston Battery, helping the club to the USL Second Division title, and had a loan stint last year with USL Pro side FC New York. He was waived Nov. 23.
Fraser, of course, was an RSL assistant coach in 2010.
Chivas returns starting goalkeeper Dan Kennedy but has jettisoned his two backups, Zach Thornton, who is expected to retire, and Sergio Arias, who returned to Guadalajara and was loaned to Mexican second-tier club Irapuato.
Kevin Guppy, a league pool goalkeeper out of Cal State Northridge who trains with Chivas USA and has served as backup for the Goats, Galaxy and other clubs, is expected to compete for the other job in the nets.
The Goats' disastrous stretch of late season hit a new low point Saturday, when they battled back from another horrid start only to lose at the finish, a 3-2 decision at Chicago that extended their season-worst losing (four games) and winless (six) streaks.
The Fire (5-8-15) went ahead through Cory Gibbs' header in the second minute, made it 2-0 on a Juan Pablo Angel own goal in the 25th, then pulled out the victory when Dominic Oduro finished Patrick Nyarko's feed in the 85th.
Gibbs got above Michael Umaņa to nod home the first, and the second arrived when Pavel Pardo's free kick glanced off Zarek Valentin, hit Angel between his shoulder and his head and flew past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Oduro's winner, which Chivas initally argued was offside -- Valentin kept Oduro onside -- followed a penetrating pass from Diego Chaves, who fended off Alejandro Moreno and Umaņa to find Nyarko.
Chivas (7-12-10), which held a man advantage after Gibbs was red-carded for a rough challenge on Michael Lahoud in the 37th minute, rallied on second-half goals two minutes apart by Angel -- his second since arriving last month from the Galaxy -- and Nick LaBrocca.
The Goats, employing an attacking lineup, controlled the game's tempo but not the game, a recurring theme this season. They completed more than twice as many passes as did the Fire (553-266) and possessed the ball for 67.6 percent of the game. If only those figures counted more than the score.
Frank Klopas disagreed.
And Major League Soccer sides with ... Klopas and the Fire.
Birchall was suspended for two games and fined $1,000 for a “challenge that showed utter disregard for his opponent’s safety,” a late, high attack that forced Nyarko, the game's best player, to depart amid concern he'd been seriously injured while touching off a mini-brawl in front of the benches. Chicago has not listed the Ghanaian winger out of Virginia Tech on the league's injury report.
Birchall afterward said it “was a mistimed tackle, but it wasn't meant to be vicious” and that he thought a yellow was deserved. He'll miss the Galaxy's games next Wednesday against Columbus at Home Depot Center and July 30 at Vancouver.
Chicago forward Diego Chaves was suspended one game and fined $250 for a stoppage-time foul on Landon Donovan that Gantar penalized with a yellow card but the league's disciplinary committee called a “reckless challenge that endangered the safety of his opponent .”
The Galaxy knew they'd be shorthanded when they embarked on an three-game trip east a week and a half ago, but they never could have expected this.
L.A. wraps its trek Sunday afternoon in Chicago missing not only Landon Donovan, who has spent the past two weeks recovering from a knee injury, but without David Beckham, too. And Juninho. And Jovan Kirovski. And, still, Gregg Berhalter.
That's four starters and a veteran off the bench, all injured or suspended as the Galaxy (2-1-3) looks for something more than two or three points from the swing from D.C. to Toronto to the Windy City.
Beckham is serving a one-game suspension after picking up five yellow cards, most in the league, in the first six games -- one for arguing, two for petulant fouls (and one of those should have drawn red).
Juninho was sent off with two yellow cards Wednesday in Toronto, and Kirovski's suspension for that postgame red card last weekend at D.C. United was bumped to two games. Berhalter, an assistant coach and the Galaxy's backline leader, is still recovering from a sprained knee sustained during preseason.
“Every time we step on the field, we’ve established an environment in L.A. where we play to win, we expect to win,” Mike Magee, who has stepped into Donovan's slot on the left flank, told MLS's web site this week. “It doesn’t matter if we’re missing David, Landon, Juninho. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to play to win.”
Beckham and Juninho have been the central tandem in midfield the past three games, but figure on coach Bruce Arena to stick Chris Birchall, who has started in the middle this year and last, with Uruguayan first-year Paolo Cardozo. Sean Franklin likely will remain on the right side of midfield, with A.J. DeLaGarza, L.A.'s most impressive defender the past two games, at right back.
The league boosted its playoff participants to 10 teams with the addition of two single-game wild-card showdowns, which should be welcomed by Chivas and Columbus, Chicago and D.C., K.C. and New England, even Toronto FC.
The Galaxy and the like? Are you kidding?
Here's how the postseason works this year:
This system will cut down on all that confusing cross-conference movement in the playoffs, which led to an all-West showdown in last year's Eastern Conference final, an Eastern Conference title (en route to MLS Cup glory) by Real Salt Lake in 2009, and a Western championship by New York in 2008.
Had this system been in place last year, K.C. would have been the No. 3 seed in the East and opened against Columbus, which the then-Wizards might have won. Which would have left them 90 minutes from MLS Cup.
One wild-card battle would have matched Colorado against San Jose. ... Hey, they did play -- in the Eastern Conference final. The Rapids prevailed, then won the MLS Cup crown. (The other wild-card matchup would have been Seattle-Chicago; the Galaxy likely would have opened against Colorado.)
MLS has had eight playoff teams since its 1996 start, when there were only 10 clubs. As the league slowly grew to 16 teams by 2010, eight playoff berths seemed sufficient. Portland and Vancouver make for 18 teams this season and Montreal for 19 next year, and eight still sounds perfect.
L.A. would have reached the 2006 playoffs had this format been in place, but nothing could have saved the Galaxy in 2007 and 2008. And forget Chivas last year or in 2005.