Los Angeles Soccer: Juan Agudelo

Galaxy, Chivas on a roll heading into SuperClasico

July, 20, 2012
CARSON -- The Galaxy and Chivas USA meet up in the second SuperClasico of the season on something of a roll, and Saturday night's showdown at Home Depot Center is clearly the most important meeting in the rivalry since L. A. captured the 2009 playoff series.

The Galaxy (8-10-3) have won five of eight games since returning in mid-June from a three-week break, and they ought not to have lost the two games they've dropped in the span. Their resurgence, following a dreadful first 2 1/2 months, is all about the big names: David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

Chivas (6-7-5) has lost only one of its last nine league games, posted three straight shutouts -- the Rojiblancos haven't surrendered a goal in 318 minutes -- and gone 6-2-5 since mid-May, including the run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

The rivals sit fifth and sixth in the Western Conference, separated by four points on the boundary for playoff berths, and every conference encounter can be a six-point swing.

Here's a look at the 27th SuperClasico showdown, Saturday at 7 p.m. at Home Depot Center in Carson:

CURRENT FORM: There's been a lot of good and a bit of bad in both teams' recent performances. They're getting results, but Chivas USA's attack is toothless, and the Galaxy has taken to outscoring opponents, or at least trying to, which leads to some grossly entertaining encounters.

L.A. just picked up seven points in a three-game road swing, and they've come from behind for three wins and a tie in the past month. Two Beckham goals fueled last weekend's 5-3 romp over Portland, and 18-year-old rookie Jose Villarreal, from Inglewood, came off the bench to score a terrific 87th-minute goal to deliver a 2-2 draw Wednesday night at Portland.

Reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez's absence because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament has been debilitating all season. He returned to action in the July 4 loss to Philadelphia but hasn't played since, complaining of pain in his surgically repaired right knee.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Goats need goals, wins

July, 6, 2012

ChivasVictor Decolongon/Getty Images Jose Erick Correa, left, and Juan Agudelo, center, have infused Chivas USA with offense, but the team needs more.

CARSON -- The steps Chivas USA has taken this season are apparent in the results the past two months: just one loss in 10 games of every stripe -- and that to Real Salt Lake -- with a march into the U.S. Open Cup's final four.

How much further the Goats still must go is right there, too: They've won just twice against Major League Soccer competition during that span -- and that extends to 10 league games, going back into mid-April.

They've been turning a corner, in the parlance, but where that corner straightens isn't yet clear, it seems. Not everyone agrees.

“I feel like maybe the first month of the season, you could emphasize that,” Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said on the eve of Saturday night's match with the Vancouver Whitecaps (8-4-5) at Home Depot Center. “I feel like the last two months, we've really turned that corner and become a team that can really grind results out.

“I would like to obviously see those results not just being ties.”

The Goats (5-7-4) have asserted themselves the past two months as their personality -- a gritty possession team -- has matured with the acquistions of, especially, young forwards Juan Agudelo and Jose Erick Correa. There's a growing dynamism within the group, and as they hit the midpoint of their MLS campaign, the next step in the evolution requires that dynamism to start translating into goals.

Chivas has hit the net only 11 times in 16 games, by far the worst rate in MLS. It has been shut out seven times, scored more than once just twice, and that's not entirely about the scoring struggles at season's start: no goals in two of the last three MLS games.

“We certainly feel like every day we're getting closer to the group understanding what is necessary to create more chances,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “We like our group of players. There's this gelling process we certainly feel has to take place and is taking place. The more we see the group, the more we feel like it's coming along.”

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Correa's finish leads to semis

June, 26, 2012
FULLERTON -- Jose Erik Correa took a goal away from Chivas USA a half-hour into Tuesday night's U.S. Open Cup showdown, and he wasn't about to let that be his legacy in the Goats' biggest game so far this season.

The Colombian forward, returning from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him most of June, made up for his miscue by scoring two goals, including a dramatic stoppage-time winner, as Chivas USA overcame the pesky Charlotte Eagles to advance to the 99-year-old competition's semifinals for the second time in club history.

Correa headed home a Laurent Courtois free kick nearly four minutes into added time to deliver a 2-1 triumph at Cal State Fullerton and set up a July 10 date with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, a 1-0 winner over the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders beat the Goats two years ago in the semifinals.

“This is huge ...,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser after the Goats' third one-goal victory in this Open Cup and the second in a row on a stoppage-time finish. “Sometimes the play's been good, sometimes the play's not been great, but at the end of the day, the team is finding ways to get results. That's going to serve you well in the long run.”

Correa also tallied in the 64th minute, finishing a through ball from Juan Agudelo that looked as if it would hold up until the end. Charlotte, a third-division side that beat FC Dallas in a third-round game nearly a month ago, pulled even in the 89th minute when Mauricio Salles knocked home the remains of a Jorge Herrera shot that James Riley slid in to block.

“It goes to show you waste some really big chances and you let the team stay in it, they’re going to fight until the very end,” said center back Danny Califf, who wore the captain's armband. “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, especially in the second half. We weren’t able to hold the ball, we didn’t finish our attacks very well, they were able to get rebounds and come at us with numbers.

“It wasn’t pretty, but in the end it showed a lot of character. That’s two games in a row that we’ve done that, so we’d like to make it easier on ourselves, but a win is a win is a win.”

Correa clinically finished on the first, with Agudelo -- a late-first-half substitute for Miller Bolaņos, who retweaked his hamstring injury in his first game since May 23 -- feeding him after Courtois chested a Tim Melia clearance onto his path near midfield. The second was almost as nice, with Correa getting assistance from countryman Juan Pablo Angel to nod home Courtois' free kick from about 30 yards out on the right flank.

“I was arriving at that ball with not a lot of strength, and [Angel] pushed me from the back with a lot of strength,” Correa said through a translator. “The next thing I know, he yells, 'Goal!' and then I turn around. Practically, the whole strength on that goal was from him. He pushed me.”

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Goats make their point

June, 23, 2012

Dan KennedyJerome Miron/US PresswireChivas USA goalie Dan Kennedy made two big saves as he helped his team get a point at Dallas.

Chivas USA did what it needed to do and got a little help at the finish, braving the Texas heat and tiring legs in their third game in eight days to claim a point Saturday night.

Dan Kennedy made two big saves, Alejandro hit the post and referee Fotis Bazakos, making just his third Major League Soccer appearance, gave the Goats a gift in stoppage time of a scoreless draw at FC Dallas.

The Goats (5-7-4, 19 points) pulled even with fifth-place Colorado on points, although the Galaxy could vault past both and into the Western Conference playoff zone with a victory in a later game against Vancouver; L.A. led, 3-0, at halftime. Dallas (3-9-4, 13 points) climbed out of cellar, one point ahead of Portland, which plays Sunday.

Nick LaBrocca returned to action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury a month ago, but Oswaldo Minda took a late yellow card for time-wasting after kicking away a ball following a foul -- his league-worst eighth of the season -- and will be suspended for the next league game, July 17 against Vancouver.

The Hoops, who outshot Chivas, 13-2 -- 9-0 in the second half -- deserved a penalty kick when defender Danny Califf spun around Fabian Castillo just inside the Goats' box four minutes into stoppage, but Bazakos, watching nearby, didn't make the call.

Chivas had plenty of first-half possession but just one legitimate chance at goal, with Kevin Hartman diving to stop a Juan Agudelo drive in the 12th minute and Moreno putting the rebound off the right post.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Angel delivers satisfying win

June, 20, 2012

CARSON -- Chivas USA has been stung four times this year by late goals that cost it a win or a draw, so there was great enjoyment derived Wednesday night from getting a a winner near the finish.

Juan Pablo Angel's looping, off-balance header from Jorge Villafaņa's cross in the 82nd minute delivered to the Goats a 2-1 victory over expansion Montreal, prodding them to within one point of fifth place following a performance that did much to alleviate the disappointment of last weekend's loss to Real Salt Lake.

Alejandro Moreno also scored, after Juan Agudelo connected with Cesar Romero's corner kick in the 14th minute, and Chivas (5-7-3) grabbed points for the fifth time in their last six Major League Soccer encounters.

“Now that feels a little better, doesn't it,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who had to deal with a few scrambles in his box -- one immediately after Angel's goal in heavy smoke from a supporters group's celebrations behind his net -- but not a whole lot else. “That was good. Really, that game was there for the taking, and we've talked all week just about winning, and we found a way to win tonight.

“Just a class finish by Juan. That's what he is who he is: goals like that.”

The Goats were more aggressive in the final third -- their primary focus as the season nears its midpoint -- and got more from its wide play, even with lead wingers Ryan Smith out because of a concussion and Laurent Courtois on the bench.

“We've been trying to emphasize with the wide players that we need to get the ball in the box more, because at the end of the day that's where you score goals,” said Angel, who netted just his third goal of the season and his 71st in 5 1/2 MLS seasons. “And today we have a great cross by Cesar out of a corner kick and we score, and then another cross, another goal.

“I think today was a game where we probably crossed the ball more than we ever have. At the end of that day, that's what we have to do, and we have to do it consistently.”

Montreal (4-8-3) was just as good as the Goats, for the most part. Not as dangerous, perhaps, but deserving of a point after Felipe Martins beat an otherwise excellent Ben Zemanski to finish Davy Arnaud's serve just before halftime.

That answered Chivas' goal, which went to Moreno after Agudelo raced past Zarek Valentin to volley Romero's corner kick off the Goats' captain, who was squared up with a defender in the goalmouth.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Goats pay for mistakes

June, 17, 2012

CARSON -- Chivas USA has been punished for mistakes all season -- it's a recurring theme for the Goats, and so is how they create so little from a goodly amount of possession.

Both were at play Saturday night, when they ran into a stronger, more precise and -- because of Chivas' unexpected win back in March -- more pumped up Real Salt Lake side, which used its every advantage to post a 3-0 victory before an announced 13,816 at Home Depot Center.

Fabian Espindola scored on each side of halftime and Will Johnson added a stoppage-time strike as RSL (10-3-2, 32 points) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games, became the first MLS club with double-digit wins and restored its lead atop the Supporters' Shield standings after D.C. United had grabbed the top spot a few hours earlier.

An uncharacteristic error from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy led to the first goal, RSL's transition game tore a hole in Chivas' midfield for the second, and the Goats had no answer, struggling again to accomplish something worthwhile in the final third.

“That's been, I'd say, our Achilles all year,” said left back Ante Jazic, who was involved in the error on RSL's opener. “I mean, we do a great job getting to the final third, and then that last pass or the final cross or the final product is lacking.

“It's coming. I think we're playing better as a team in general, but the toughest thing to do in this game is score, and we definitely have to start scoring some goals.”

It's the sixth time in 14 games Chivas (4-7-3, 15 points) has been shut out this season -- and the fifth time in eight home games. Only Toronto FC and Philadelphia, the two worst teams in MLS, have fewer than the Goats' nine goals.

Chivas created virtually nothing worth noting until it was down by two goals, and only Juan Agudelo's 85th-minute header from a Ryan Smith cross tested RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

“Certainly, we have players that we think are good players, and we have to be able to execute,” Goats coach Robin Fraser said. “Tonight we didn't execute in the attacking end, and we took stretches of possession and didn't turn them into dangerous chances.

“I do feel like we've had this conversation many times.”

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: PK sends Goats to quarters

June, 5, 2012

Chivas USATravis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/Getty ImagesChivas USA's Juan Agudelo battles against Amir Lowery of the Carolina RailHawks during Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game.

Chivas USA should have gotten more from its early dominance in Tuesday's night's U.S. Open Cup clash, but that's to be expected. The Goats have a knack for not taking advantage of their chances -- or not creating chances from their possession.

They got one goal, a beautiful header from Juan Agudelo, and then ran into some fortune at the finish, and so they'll play on into the quarterfinals of the 99-year-old knockout tournament, and do so at home.

Juan Pablo Angel converted a penalty kick in the third minute of stoppage to deliver a 2-1 third-round triumph over the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, N.C. The Goats advance to a June 26 final-eight matchup with the Charlotte Eagles, a third-tier side from the USL Pro that beat the second-division San Antonio Scorpions, 2-1, in overtime.

Chivas' victory was neither simple nor particularly impressive, at least not after the break.

“I thought we started well,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “We created quite a few chances, were able to put them on their heels. We probably didn't do well enough with our opportunities early on. ... We came out the second half and didn't put together a whole lot, but real credit to the group for coming out with a lot of resiliency after their goal.”

The Goats looked good in the first half, moving the ball swiftly through Peter Vagenas in midfield and feeding off a sensational first half-hour, especially, from Agudelo. The big teenager's movement flummoxed the RailHawks, and his strength overpowered them.

He generated several opportunities -- the best: setting up Laurent Courtois to fire just over the crossbar in the 16th minute, firing to force a tough save by former FC Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse a minute later, nodding a cross that Burse somehow kept out in the 25th -- and should have scored in the 18th, when he delayed his shot and the opening disappeared.

Agudelo tallied in the 31st from a Courtois cross with a sharp, glancing header from the edge of the 6-yard box across the goalmouth and into the right-post netting.

“He was finding a lot of good spaces,” Fraser said. “He was very, very difficult for them to deal with, running in behind, holding off guys, running at guys. That activity was very important for us.”

(Read full post)

OPEN CUP: Chivas holds off Fusion

May, 29, 2012

VENTURA -- The way its Major League Soccer brethren were dropping games left and right, Chivas USA couldn't be too disappointed after capturing its U.S. Open Cup opener Tuesday night, even if the performance left plenty to be desired.

The Goats got an early goal, from Cesar Romero, and withstood heavy pressure at times to pull out a 1-0 victory over the Ventura County Fusion and advance to a fourth-round meeting next week in North Carolina.

The Fusion, an amateur powerhouse from the Premier Development League -- and featuring former Chivas midfielder Rodrigo Lopez and two players, Kennedy Chongo and Daniel Steres, who were with the Goats during preseason -- were the better side much of the night but couldn't beat Tim Melia, the No. 2 goalkeeper, despite creating more opportunities than Chivas.

“In a single-elimination tournament, the most important thing is to win, and these games are tough,” Goats coach Robin Fraser said. “The 'underdog' really treats it like it's a huge game, and certainly we need to as well, but as you can tell by tonight with seven teams losing in the MLS, these are difficult games.

“So to come out and win and move onto the next round is the most important thing.”

An expected SuperClasico showdown with the Galaxy was dead before kickoff -- L.A. was one of seven MLS clubs to lose against lower-division competition -- so Chivas has a date next Tuesday in Cary, N.C., with the Carolina RailHawks.

“[Playing the Galaxy] is what we expected,” said Chivas winger Ryan Smith, an Englishman, “but this is like the F.A. Cup back home. You don't know who's going to win because it's who turns up on the day. I'm glad L.A. are out.”

Chivas managed only a couple of chances and tested Ventura's goalkeeper, UCLA's Earl Edwards, only once, on Romero's 13th-minute goal. He took a through ball from Juan Agudelo, and his low shot nutmegged Edwards from right of the net.

It was Romero's first goal for Chivas' first team, but his 12th in all for Chivas, including preseason, MLS Reserve League and reserve friendlies.

“I’ve been knocking on the door [of the first team],” said Romero, who has played sparingly the past six week. “Every day is a new day for me, and every day I train and work hard for the main goal which is to start on the first team.”

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Goats claim another point

May, 26, 2012
CARSON -- Chivas USA is four games into a five-game stretch against the best teams in Major League Soccer, and they've managed results in every one of them. Saturday night's was a 1-1 draw with visiting Seattle, and although the Goats might have wrested something more from it but for one error at the back, theirs was one satisfied locker room when it was over.

Juan Agudelo scored his first goal with Chivas, and it might have stood up for a full three points had John Alexander Valencia not whiffed on a ball sent into the Goats' goalmouth just four minutes later. That's three times this season, and twice this week, they've taken a lead and given it right back.

That's on the list of things that still need to be corrected, and if it's a long list, it's getting shorter all the time.

“We would have liked to close the week with three points tonight. I think that goes without saying,” captain Alejandro Moreno said. “Listen, we had an emotional game against the Galaxy last week, we go to New York, a long trip, and get a [tie] there in a very physical and demanding game, and we were able to put together a decent performance tonight. In the end, I think we'll take whatever we got out of this week, but most of all, I think we'll take the fact that we seem to be taking steps forward, the way we're playing. There's more consistency to what we're trying to do on the field.”

Chivas had most of the ball, with 61 percent possession, but created only so many chances -- a recurring theme -- but they put away the best of the lot, maybe their best sequence all season, just 12 minutes into the second half.

Moreno played a ball back to Peter Vagenas, who sent it to James Riley -- outstanding all game, our choice as man of the match -- on the right flank. Riley had plenty of time to look up and pick out Agudelo, who got behind Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to head the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Goats in form, Sounders aren't

May, 26, 2012

CARSON -- Juan Agudelo is back, Osvaldo Alonso is out. If that's not enough to push Chivas USA into the favorite's role for Saturday night's Major League Soccer clash with the Seattle Sounders at Home Depot Center, consider current form.

The Goats (4-6-2, 14 points) are quickly solidifying into a real contender, with the draw at San Jose two weeks ago followed by last weekend's victory over the Galaxy and a tie Wednesday at Eastern Conference leader New York -- plus the burgeoning partnership up front between Agudelo and Jose Erik Correa -- and Juan Pablo Angel, too -- promising big things down the road.

They're in better shape for once than Seattle (7-3-2, 23 points), which started so well -- six shutouts and just three goals allowed in its first nine games -- but has struggled in its last three, sandwiching home losses to Real Salt Lake and on Wednesday to Columbus around a draw at Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver.

There's a goalkeeping crisis, troubles at the back -- the Sounders have allowed four goals in their last two matches -- and now Alonso, perhaps the best holding midfielder in the league, is gone, suspended two games Friday by MLS's disciplinary committee for a two-footed tackle in the Columbus loss that wasn't caught by the referee.

How big is that?

Alonso is the foundation for nearly everything the Sounders do.

Danny Califf, a few hours before word was out about the Cuban star, said trying to “move Alonso around” was critical.

“[We can't] just let him sit in the middle, because he does such a great job of breaking up plays and really covering so much ground,” said Califf, Chivas' backline leader after just two games since arriving from Philadelphia. “I think also when they have the ball [we need to try] to really have someone on him. A lot of their game goes through him, and he likes to lift his head up and look for cheeky runs from [top scorer Fredy] Montero.”

Agudelo is back early from the U.S. national team camp after not making Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster for the “five-game tournament,” as U.S. Soccer is calling three friendlies (the first Saturday against Scotland) and the first two 2014 World Cup qualifiers. He and fellow Colombian Correa represent the future for Chivas, which has been desperate for something in the final third and is starting to find it.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Agudelo dropped by U.S.

May, 25, 2012

Chivas USA's young new star has returned the club after he was dropped from the U.S. national team roster for the “five-game tournament” that begins with Saturday's friendly against Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla., and wraps up with next month's World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

Juan Agudelo, a 19-year-old, Colombian-born striker acquired eight days ago in a trade from the New York Red Bulls, has been a regular for the U.S. under Jurgen Klinsmann, but his failure to make the cut from 27 to 23 players was not all that surprising. He has just returned from a knee injury and is still seeking his best form, having made only his second start of the season in his Chivas debut in last weekend's SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy.

Agudelo returned to the Goats on Thursday, is scheduled to train Friday morning and be available for Saturday's night's Major League Soccer game against the Seattle Sounders at Home Depot Center.

Also trimmed from the camp roster were Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and two German-born players, Hertha Berlin defender Alfredo Morales and 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Danny Williams.

Agudelo was the only one of seven forwards in the Orlando, Fla., camp who did not make the roster for three friendlies -- the U.S. plays Brazil on Wednesday in Landover, Md., and Canada next Saturday in Toronto -- and for the qualifiers June 8 against Antigua in Tampa, Fla., and June 12 at Guatemala. The forwards on the list: Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez from Mexican champion Santos Laguna, and European-employed Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd and Clint Dempsey.

Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS) is five local players on the roster. The others are Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA), Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA), Chievo Verona midfielder Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach), and Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS). Two San Diegans -- veteran Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo and Club Tijuana midfielder Joe Corona -- also made the cut.

Here's the full U.S. roster for the five games:

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Angel's return almost a winner

May, 23, 2012

Juan Pablo AngelMike Stobe/Getty ImagesJuan Pablo Angel received a warm welcome in his first game at Red Bull Arena since 2010.

Chivas USA had to do without its new arrival from New York -- Juan Agudelo is off with the U.S. national team in Florida -- but there's another Red Bulls veteran on the Goats' roster, and he made himself quite at home Wednesday night.

Juan Pablo Angel, New York's all-time goals leader, returned to Red Bull Arena for the first time since he departed the Red Bulls after the 2010 season, received a warm reception from the fans, then did his best to make their lives miserable.

His best performance of the season was rewarded with a spectacular goal at the start of the first half, and although Chivas couldn't turn it into three points, a 1-1 draw was a rather satisfying result.

The Goats' attack had spark, their defending was mostly exceptional, and had they done a better job holding onto the ball, especially under New York's second-half pressure, they might have boosted their road mark to 4-1-1.

“I think any time you don't get three points, there's some level of disappointment,” head coach Robin Fraser acknowledged to ESPN Los Angeles. “But, realistically, on the road against the first-place team in the East -- with a five-game winning streak -- you have to look at the big picture. A point in Red Bull Arena is not a bad result.”

It could have been worse. Nick LaBrocca, a Jersey boy who tested rookie Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara just two minutes in, was done by the fifth minute, tweaking his hamstring chasing Dane Richards into the Goats' box. He figures to miss Saturday's game at HDC against Seattle and next week's U.S. Open Cup match against the Ventura County Fusion, and tests will determine if he'll be out longer.

Richards was a handful for Chivas defenders -- he was the pivotal figure on Kenny Cooper's 56th-minute equalizer -- but the Goats did well limiting the effectiveness of Thierry Henry, returning to the Red Bulls' lineup after missing four games with a hamstring injury, and Cooper, who nonetheless tallied for the fourth straight game.

The Danny Califf-Rauwshan McKenzie partnership in central defense, just two games in, looks very good, and Oswaldo Minda was a force in front of them, keying Chivas' transition game while frustrating Henry and Cooper, both of whom confronted the Ecuadoran midfielder.

Dan Kennedy was sharp, making a fine reaction stop on Henry's 51st-minute header, and Ante Jazic secured the point by clearing Dax McCarty's header off the goal line following a corner kick in the 83rd.

Angel, who is still finding his form after missing five games because of a concussion, was the sharpest he has been since his scoring tear last year. He hit the left post in the 25th minute, following a nice sequence involving Paolo Cardozo and Miller Bolaņos, and brilliantly provided a 47th-minute lead.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Trade echoes vs. Red Bulls

May, 23, 2012

Juan Agudelo, after his first training session as a Chivas USA forward and again after his first game with the club, spoke of his excitement to return to Red Bull Arena and face his former club.

That game has arrived, but Agudelo is missing, off with the U.S. national team in Florida preparing for next month's World Cup qualifiers. He is, however, a big part of the conversation heading into Wednesday's Major League Soccer showdown against the New York Red Bulls.

So, too, defender Heath Pearce, who a week ago was on Field 6 at Home Depot Center preparing for a tough stretch of games on Chivas' schedule. Now he's anchor to the Red Bulls' backline, ready to take on his former club.

If ever a trade were win-win, Thursday's was it. Chivas (4-6-1) picked up a young, rising star that New York, for whatever reason, had no interest in. The Red Bulls' thin defense got a versatile veteran with national team experience. And then Chivas, in another trade, picked up Pearce's replacement, veteran Danny Califf. Everybody is happy.

Agudelo, just 19, already has impressed with the national team and is a regular on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's rosters. But he didn't fit in stylistically at New York and struggled for playing time last year behind Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers and this year behind Henry and Kenny Cooper, although he also was dealing with a knee injury.

Henry is happy to see him at Chivas.

“[Red Bulls GM] Erik Soler said it at halftime [last weekend]: He wanted to go. So you’ve got to respect that,” Henry told the New York Post. “He wasn’t playing here, so I thought and he thought actually that it was a waste of time for him. ... I know some people were upset about it, had [something] to say about it, but at the end of the day, if you think about Agu, he had to play. It’s good for him.”

Klinsmann weighed in when he announced that Agudelo, who debuted for the Goats in Saturday's 1-0 SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy, was coming into camp with the U.S.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: Agudelo has room to grow

May, 20, 2012

Juan AgudeloVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesJuan Agudelo of Chivas USA looks to lead a pass to teammate Jose Erick Correa as A.J. DeLaGarza of the Galaxy tries to defend the play in the first half. Chivas USA defeated the Galaxy 1-0.

CARSON -- Chivas USA has had its share of legends and big stars, most of them -- Claudio Suarez, Ramon Ramirez, even Francisco Palencia and John O'Brien -- near or at the ends of their careers.

Juan Agudelo is something else: a superstar in the making, and his Goats debut in Saturday night's SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy could go down as one of the signpost events in club annals.

The tall, talented teen with bearing beyond his years did nothing spectacular and a whole lot of things really well in his first start with his new club, playing a key role setting up Jose Erik Correa's penalty kick and showing flashes of what he, Correa and Miller Bolaņos -- and Juan Pablo Angel, too, perhaps -- can achieve once they're all on the same page.

“I think Juan had a good debut,” coach Robin Fraser said after Chivas (4-6-1) ended a 12-game winless streak against their cross-stadium rival. “He’s a player that wants to be on the ball, he’s a very attack-minded player, he’s got very solid feet. You can see there are times when he wanted the ball, he wants to run at people, he wants to make things happen, and I thought his impact was immediate.

“We’re extremely excited to have him, and we’re extremely excited to watch him develop. He’s very special.”

Agudelo, whose excitement was such that he experienced “probably one of the most anxious feelings that I’ve had before a game ever,” was happy with how things went:

  • “I felt great, and at times I wasn't able to find the spacing [with teammates] that I wanted, but I think that it's something that over time I'll improve, knowing the positions and holes with this team.”
  • “[My chemistry with Correa] is going great. We're both Colombian, so we speak Spanish to each other, and I think that connection of South America is working.”
  • “[Fraser's system] suits me really well. Just with my height [6-foot-1], I felt like crosses to the far post, I was dangerous then, and I think that moving forward that could be something that could help us get some goals. I feel like sometimes with my heading that I’ve got more power on it, and in this type of system, I love it that the coach encourages freedom.”

The 19-year-old, Colombian born striker, who departed Sunday to join the U.S. national team's Florida preparations for next month's start to its World Cup qualifying campaign, has impressed in international play but didn't fit into the New York Red Bulls' Eurocentric approach, and his trade Thursday to Chivas has rejuventated his young career. The Goats are a far better fit stylistically, culturally and in terms of opportunities to grow.

(Read full post)

SUPERCLASICO: Chivas ends drought

May, 19, 2012

CARSON -- Chivas USA ended the most painful drought in club history Saturday night, beating its hated rival for the first time since 2007, but more than that, the Goats offered a tantalizing glimpse at what their future could look like.

Juan Agudelo, acquired in a trade Thursday from the New York Red Bulls, made a fine impression in his debut, teaming up front with Jose Erik Correa and Miller Bolaņos to create an attack that, once everyone is on the same page, could lead to something very special.

The Goats dictated play most of the first half and, with new defender Danny Califf anchoring a fine backline performance, held off a resurgent Galaxy after halftime to claim a 1-0 triumph before a sellout crowd of 18,800 at Home Depot Center.

The goal came on a 72nd-minute penalty kick by Correa, who had to take it twice -- the first was waved off when Jorge Villafaņa encroached before the shot -- firing both to virtually the same spot.

That's two goals Chivas (4-6-1, 13 points) has scored at home this year, both on penalties, but this one meant a lot more, giving the club its first home victory in six tries.

That it came against the Galaxy (3-6-2, 11 points) made it all the more spectacular. L.A.'s unbeaten streak against its cross-stadium rival had reached 12 games, with victories in the last five meetings and in the last six regular-season encounters.

“It's big,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser, a former Galaxy star. “I think I underestimated the level of rivalry between the two teams when I first got here. I was surprised by the nature of the comments after our first game last year, and it was very evident that there is very little respect for this club [from the other side]. We talked a lot during the week that the only way to get respect is to go out and earn it and I thought they did a good job of that tonight.”

Chivas came closest to scoring in the first half -- Bolaņos hit the base of the right post from 24 yards after stripping the ball from Juninho near midfield in the 34th minute -- and got big back-to-back saves from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, on Pat Noonan and Kyle Nakazawa, five minutes into the second half -- and got the only goal following a rather odd play.

Oswaldo Minda, returning from a yellow-card suspension, lofted the ball into the Galaxy goalmouth, and goalkeeper Brian Perk leapt over Agudelo to knock the ball away. As both crumpled to the ground, it fell to Correa, who volleyed sharply past A.J. DeLaGarza and at former Chivas defender David Junior Lopes, who was standing on the goal line.

The ball caromed off Lopes' left arm. Referee Mark Geiger showed him the red carded and gave Chivas the spot kick.

(Read full post)