Los Angeles Soccer: Rauwshan McKenzie
Chivas USA's quest for a trophy ended the same place its last real quest met its end, where every quest, at least for this trophy, seems to come to a close.
The Goats ran into the Seattle Sounders in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinals, and if their usual trouble spots -- an inability to create chances, costly mistakes in the worst places -- hadn't put them at a sizable disadvantage, then surely the reigning champs' attacking prowess would have done the trick.
The Sounders advanced to a fourth straight U.S. Open Cup title game -- and perhaps an unprecedented fourth straight triumph -- with a 4-1 romp in Tukwila, Wash., where they are 17-0 in the 99-year-old tournament.
Eddie Johnson gave Seattle a 31st-minute lead, Osvaldo Alonso converted a penalty kick at the start of the second half, and Cesar Romero's strike to halve the deficit with about 20 minutes to go was answered by UC Irvine product Brad Evans and Riverside's Sammy Ochoa near the end.
Chivas, which hasn't won a trophy in its 7 1/2-year history, failed in its biggest match since falling in the semifinals two years ago to the Sounders on the same Starfire Sports Complex turf.
“Early in the game was exactly as we expected it to be: a battle for territory, not giving anything up, getting into good spots,” head coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “I really thought it was going exactly as expected. Then we made a mistake to give up a bad goal, made another mistake for a bad goal to start the second half, then we're chasing the game.”
Chivas, despite ample possession, couldn't penetrate, and the service from the wings wasn't good enough. Starfire's narrow dimensions caused problems, and the Goats didn't get off a shot until the 58th minute -- and didn't get off a good one until Romero, who provided a big spark off the bench, made it 2-1 in the 74th.
That has been the recurring theme all season: Chivas has only 17 goals over 21 games in all competitions, and it's not because chances aren't being taken.
“I'd say I'm running short on patience in terms of scoring goals,” said Fraser, whose team has been shut out in three of its last four Major League Soccer matches and scored more than once only four times all year, twice against lower-level Open Cup opposition. “We'll just continue to work at it, continue to try to get the ball in dangerous spots.”
Seattle will face Sporting Kansas City in the final Aug. 8 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting won, 2-0, at Philadelphia, with Jacob Peterson tallying from Graham Zusi's free kick in the 65th minute and -- with Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath pushed forward in search of an equalizer -- Zusi scoring from midfield into an empty net deep into stoppage.
Fan balloting for the July 25 MLS All-Star Game begins Friday morning, and a name missing from last year's list of candidates has found its way onto the ballot: Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant's.
He's one of six L.A. players eligible to make the All-Star First XI, the first group of players for Philadelphia coach Peter Nowak's side for the clash with England's Chelsea at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
The First XI will be determined by fan voting at Major League Soccer's website, via text messaging and, in two weeks, during a two-day Twitter session. Additional players will be selected by Nowak, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and in a players vote.
Midfielders David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Juninho, forward Robbie Keane and goalkeeper Josh Saunders are the other Galaxy players on the ballot. Donovan would make a record 12th appearance is selected; he shares the record with retired defender Eddie Pope.
Chivas' eligible players are goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, defender James Riley, midfielders Nick LaBrocca and Oswaldo Minda, and forwards Juan Pablo Angel and Alejandro Moreno.
A media panel determined the 114 names on the ballot, just six per team, including one goalkeeper from each side. As always, there are omissions, although for the local teams none as wrong-headed as Dunivant's omission last year.
Given the Galaxy's struggles, only a few players -- Beckham chief among them -- are worthy of consideration, although the priority is more about putting together a team that can compete with Chelsea than in rewarding players for their performances in the first half of the season.
The biggest omissions among local players are Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee, one of the few L.A. players who has done well this season, and Chivas USA center backs Danny Califf and Rauwshan McKenzie.
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 Bolaños, and brilliantly provided a 47th-minute lead.
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 Bolaños -- 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.
Sometimes it takes a bit of skill, sometimes a bit of luck. Chivas USA needed both on a windy afternoon in Toronto to pull out another road victory Saturday, its third in a row.
Oswaldo Minda's first Major League Soccer goal, two clearances off the goal line and another outstanding 90 minutes from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made the difference in a game, just like last week's, that changed its tale after halftime.
A week ago, the Goats answered a horrid opening 45 minutes with a superb second half to overcome Portland. This time, they held off a Toronto FC barrage following the break to claim a 1-0 victory, their third in three road games to push their record to 3-3-0 and climb, however early it might be, into the Western Conference playoff zone.
“I still don't think we're putting out a convincing performance, but as long we we get the three points,” defender Heath Pearce, who knocked away a late Ryan Johnson shot headed for the net to ensure the victory, told ESPN Los Angeles afterward. “We don't want to get complacent. It's another three points, but it's a long season, and we have to be consistent. That was the biggest [problem] last season, and we want that to be a thing of the past.”
Consistency was difficult in the conditions. A strong, cold wind blew off Lake Ontario, and when it was at Chivas' back to start, the game belonged to the Goats. They deserved more than just Minda's 31st-minute header from fellow Ecuadoran Miller Bolaños' corner kick, but created virtually nothing once headed into the breeze.
“It was pretty significant,” said head coach Robin Fraser, who has guided the Goats to back-to-back wins for just the second time in his 15½-month tenure. “It wasn't that it was impossible to play against, but it definitely helped the team that had it.”
Toronto utilized it more effectively than did Chivas -- they had 10 second-half corner kicks (Chivas had seven in the first half) and created a half-dozen genuine chances, with Pearce, Bolaños and Kennedy making heroic stops to keep intact the club's second shutout of the season. Johnson called Toronto's failure to score “mind-boggling. ... We could have had four or five goals.”
“I really think certainly in very, very important places tonight a lot of guys stood up and did very well,” Fraser said. “There were a lot of corners coming in late, and the guys were winning battles, winning headers ... Dan had a couple big saves again.”
CARSON -- There's an all-too-familiar quality to all of Chivas USA's matches this year, and that's not a good thing. Tremendous defensive work and decent possession, but few goalscoring chances, one breakdown and that's that.
It happened again Sunday night, when the Goats wasted another solid effort in their third 1-0 loss of the campaign, all at home. Sporting Kansas City took advantage of a letdown right after halftime, then fended off an increasingly direct Chivas attack to improve to 4-0-0, the only perfect record four weeks into the Major League Soccer campaign.
“It's frustrating. I'm frustrated. I know a lot of guys are frustrated,” defender Heath Pearce said after Chivas dropped to 1-3-0 to remain at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, behind the Galaxy only on goal difference. “We tried to find some positives in this game, and we've been saying for a while now that we have bright moments and stuff, but at the end of the day, bright moments aren't enough if we're not scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.
“I just feel like we make it really difficult on ourselves every single game.”
The Goats have zero margin for error. They've scored just once in four games -- rookie Casey Townsend's finish in last weekend's 1-0 stunner at Real Salt Lake -- so one breakdown or one superb play by the opposition is enough to destroy a firm foundation built on wonderful defending up and down the field.
That breakdown/superb play, a little of both, arrived in the 47th minute. Chivas failed to deal appropriately with a turnover at midfield, providing space for a long Graham Zusi run, almost to the top of the box. He unloaded from there, with the ball caroming off goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's outstretched hands and off the crossbar and high into the air. Zusi outleapt Ante Jazic for the header, sending the ball toward the left post, and C.J. Sapong tucked it home.
Chivas, which dominated the first half-hour but struggled to turn almost constant possession into penetration, went to a direct game from that point, lobbing balls over the top. There were chances, but just one that mattered: Nick LaBrocca hitting the left post following a Laurent Courtois run in the 54th minute.
“Our retention of possession needs to be a lot better,” said winger Ryan Smith, who with Laurent Courtois fueled Chivas' attack in the first half. “In the second half, we just kept giving it away. In the first half, we wasn't so bad, we got some chances, but I don't know what happened in the second half. We came out, they got the early goal, we didn't retain possession. That's key. If you don't have possession, you can't get into good areas. You can't just hit it and hope to get on the end of a long ball. Sometimes, you have to keep the ball, move the opposition around, then make a decisive pass or switch a play, but it just didn't happen in the second half.”
The Goats put only one shot on frame -- LaBrocca's off the post -- against a team that had surrendered just one shot on goal in two of its first three matches. They had another decent chance just before halftime, when James Riley chipped to Smith at the top of the box, but his touches, the first to pull away from Aurelien Collin and the next to avoid goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, took the Englishman beyond the end line.
CARSON -- Chivas USA last weekend heroically gutted out a victory over Major League Soccer's early Supporters' Shield leader. Now they'll try to do so again, and it will require the same kind of grit.
That's what the Goats are counting on when they meet Sporting Kansas City (3-0-0) on Sunday evening at Home Depot Center, and that's fine by them.
Real Salt Lake dominated Chivas through huge portions of last week's clash in Sandy, Utah, but superb defensive work -- especially by former RSL backup Rauwshan McKenzie and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy -- and a heads-up finish by rookie Casey Townsend delivered to the Goats (1-2-0) a 1-0 triumph.
Sporting K.C., which vaulted over RSL to the top of the overall standings with a comeback victory last weekend over FC Dallas, can be expected to apply similar pressure, and Chivas is ready for it.
“We've got a fight about us. We've got a determination,” said midfielder Blair Gavin, asked what's different about Robin Fraser's second Chivas team. “We've got guys who get stuck into tackles, who work hard offensively and defensively. This is Robin's second year, so his ideas are coming in now. He's getting more players he likes and [who] understand his system, and at the end of the day, we've got a lot of winners on this team, and we're going to be fighting for every victory.”
That desire to fight is pivotal -- it's built into former U.S. defenders Fraser's and assistant coach Greg Vanney's DNA and that of their teams -- but it won't be enough to contend for a playoff berth in the Western Conference. That will require greater dynamism on attack. With winger Michael Lahoud and striker Juan Pablo Angel dealing with injuries and newcomer Miller Bolaños still looking to contribute, it's still a ways off.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said midfielder Peter Vagenas, noting that this group has just three competitive games together. “This is a work in progress. The soccer is going to get better and the way we want to play, that's going to get better, but you need time. While you're doing that, you need success, especially in the win department, to validate what you're doing.
The rookie's opportunistic half-volley in the 72nd minute and another exceptional performance in the back was enough for Chivas to claim a 1-0 triumph Saturday night over powerful Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah, a stirring upset that might be worth a lot more than three points.
The Goats survived a half-hour under relentless pressure in the first half and a late RSL push at the end to give Robin Fraser his first victory over his former club and Chivas its first win at Rio Tinto Stadium. The way they did so, and how they turned their first-half turmoil into a fine second-half performance, might prod them along the next step in their evolution under the second-year coach.
“I would like to think so,” Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles by phone when he was asked if he thought the victory might be a huge step forward. “In our tenure here, I don't think the results have gone that way for us in this sort of game. When times got tough tonight, our guys dug in and dug deep and defended like nothing else mattered. … These guys just fought, gritted and gutted out a victory.”
It wasn't particularly pretty, even with Chivas matching RSL's possession for long stretches of the second half. The Goats created just two real scoring chances -- Townsend's goal followed Peter Vagenas' half-volley and Rauwshan McKenzie's rebound, both knocked aside by Nick Rimando, from a 16th-minute corner kick -- and had to stave off nearly nonstop forays by RSL, which entered the game No. 1 in Major League Soccer's overall standings.
The Utahns (2-1-0) had nearly a dozen scoring opportunities, and at least half of them were good. Former RSL reserve McKenzie was outstanding -- his 42nd-minute takeaway in the box from Fabian Espindola was clinical -- and fellow center back Heath Pearce and right back James Riley were nearly as good. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was a difference-maker, diving to stop Espindola in the 22nd and 93rd minutes, dominant when coming off his line to attack crosses, a master of his box. He was, Rimando said, “why we had this result.”
Townsend delivered the knockout punch following the Goats' best sequence of the night. The final three passes were key: Ryan Smith threaded the ball through three defenders to give Nick LaBrocca space to head forward, LaBrocca put Ante Jazic into open territory on the left flank, and Jazic whipped a cross into the middle for the rookie to battle for against Rimando and big center back Chris Schuler.
Schuler was between Rimando, who leaped and had the ball in his hands, and Townsend, who applied the necessary physical pressure in the air. The RSL goalkeeper, a former UCLA star from Montclair, fumbled the ball. Townsend, the No. 5 overall selection in January's MLS SuperDraft, followed the ball with his eyes as it fell to the ground, instinctively kicking at it as it landed. The ball sailed hard and true into the net.
“For a first [professional] goal, it was obviously very cool,” said Townsend, who scored 17 last fall as a senior at the University of Maryland. “As far as watching the ball on the way down, that's the striker instinct in me. I just kind of swung at it instinctively toward the net.”
Nobody has to tell Robin Fraser how good Real Salt Lake is. He spent three years as chief assistant to Jason Kreis, playing a significant role in the club's rise from doormat to champion and -- before the Galaxy's resurgence -- standard-bearer for Major League Soccer.
It's a model of sorts for what Fraser is trying to build at Chivas USA, a task that's going to take some time but is, as the Goats' head coach puts it, “coming to fruition,” even with back-to-back shutout losses to start the season.
“Every experience is different. Every team is different,” Fraser said. “They have a lot of consistency. They have a number of guys who've been on the team … this is their fifth year, I think. When you have that kind of carryover with good players, then good things happen.”
Fraser is still building his roster, and only goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, left back Ante Jazic, midfielders Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski, and forward-turned-midfielder Alejandro Moreno have been around longer than the coach, who was hired in January 2011.
Carryover of RSL's sort will take another three or four seasons.
“It's all part of the process of building a team,” Fraser said. “I think any of the successful teams over the years -- look at D.C. United, look at our Galaxy teams [in the league's early years], Houston/San Jose for a while -- these are teams that spent a lot of time together. It's definitely part of the key to enduring success.”
Chivas, however, needs results now, and heads into Saturday night's clash in Sandy, Utah, against Fraser's old team desperate for points and facing long odds.
Chivas has shown little sign of attacking coherency is 1-0 home losses to Houston and Vancouver, and they're without star striker Juan Pablo Angel, who is dealing with concussion issues. RSL, with tremendous talent all over the field, sits atop MLS's Supporters' Shield standings following victories over the Galaxy and New York, the two biggest clubs in the league.
“We're still looking, still looking at different players, different positions,” Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles on Tuesday. “Still looking around the world.”
Chivas has 26 players on their roster, with five more additions possible. The Major League Soccer maximum is 30, including players away on loan (such as forward Tristan Bowen, who is in Belgium), but midfielder Marvin Iraheta is on the disabled list because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and his spot is open.
The Goats are in pursuit of a South American player, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, and expect to sign him within the next week or so. Another source said the player was from Colombia, the top foreign provider of MLS talent, with 28 players, 14 of them newcomers this season. Chivas striker Juan Pablo Angel is Colombian.
Defenders Matt Dallman, Patrick Kanyuka and Mario Ledesma, midfielders Rodrigo Lopez, Cameron Artigliere and Ernesto Hutchinson, and forward John Owoeri remain in camp on trial. Fraser said he planned to make decisions “within a day or two” on Owoeri, a former Nigerian youth international who scored three goals in Sunday's 6-1 rout of UC Riverside, and Ledesma (Woodland Hills/El Camino Real HS), who has been in camp from the start.
CARSON -- There's plenty for Chivas USA to improve upon following its Major League Soccer opener Sunday afternoon, but the finish against the Houston Dynamo, who pulled out a 1-0 victory with nearly the last boot of the game, dampened the Goats' spirits only a smidge.
Chivas was organized, spirited and battled evenly, more or less, all afternoon with the club that played in last year's MLS Cup final, and if everything didn't quite click -- especially on attack -- there was more than enough reason for optimism.
“I'll be honest,” said midfielder Peter Vagenas, who made his Chivas debut in central midfield. “Like a lot of people, I wasn't sure what we had. ... We have character, we have heart, we fight. The soccer wasn't ideal, but let's be realistic. This team hasn't played together very much. We're facing a team that's got, I mean, how many games have Brad [Davis] and Brian [Ching] played together at this point? Right?
“At some points it was disjointed, we didn't get the service in to Juan [Pablo Angel up top], and that was frustrating, but at the end of the day we were tough, we were organized, we fought, and I promise you it's only going to get better.”
Chivas looked sharper and stronger than at any point during preseason, created four clear scoring opportunities -- with Angel volleying off a post with one and three headers, two by Angel, off-target -- and benefited from another big game by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who solved whatever problems surfaced until almost the end.
The Goats were seconds from a 0-0 draw and a share of the points, but defender Andre Hainault lifted Houston two minutes into stoppage after Davis' corner kick was cleared. It fell outside the box to Adam Moffat, who possesses a rocket shot, and his blast appeared to deflect to Hainault.
Chivas' backline was racing forward, as it should, so Hainault was left 1-on-1 with Kennedy. The finish was simple.
“It's a tough one,” said right back James Riley, one of seven players making their club debuts for the Rojiblancos. “In practice this week, our whole focus was set pieces, because we know that's what Houston lives and dies on. I thought we defended it well, guys jumped out to the second ball and tried to block it and prevent it, and it was just one of those things that are unlucky.
“That happens. For it to happen in the 90th minute was absolutely gutting. It's a cruel game sometimes. Very cruel game.”
Romero, 22, netted his fourth goal of the preseason Thursday night, and if it wasn't enough to beat the Portland Timbers, it should have been. Lax defending on a corner kick enabled the home side to pull out a 1-1 draw in the second of three doubleheaders in a four-team tournament, a match that drew 15,195 at Jeld-Wen Field.
Romero provided a 21st-minute advantage for Chivas, nodding trialist Alan Souza's cross from the right powerfully between the slight space separating Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and the right post.
Romero has been a handful for opposing defenses in nearly every one of his nine preseason-match appearances, and he was rewarded eight days ago with a contract. He's a nice foil for Juan Pablo Angel or rookie Casey Townsend, especially when Chivas uses a 4-4-2 alignment, as they did Thursday, rather than the 4-2-3-1 head coach Robin Fraser has employed during most of the buildup toward its March 11 Major League Soccer opener.
“[The goal] was certainly a result of hard work and desire,” Fraser said afterward. “It was the result of good, aggressive team play.”
With better fortune, the Goats could have added to their lead. A sharp cross caromed off Townsend's head to challenge Gleeson shortly after Romero struck, and Rauwshan McKenzie beat Gleeson to a header following a corner kick that Chris Taylor cleared off the goal line.
Portland got its goal in the 78th minute. Chivas' backline was caught flat-footed on a corner kick into the goalmouth, and rookie Ryan Kawulok, who signed his contract earlier in the day, beat trialist Scott Gordon to push it past Goats keeper Tim Melia, who was sharp all night.
“At the end of the day, the guys are getting into 90-minute fitness,” Fraser explained. “Set pieces in Portland are always going to be a big part of the story. They have a lot of big guys, and at home they thrive on them.”
Portland possesses one of the most rabid fan bases in MLS, and although the crowd was a little smaller than the group that saw the Timbers tie San Jose on Monday night, it provided a glimpse of regular-season atmosphere for, especially, Romero and Townsend.
The 22-year-old forward from San Diego signed with Chivas USA, the club announced Wednesday, after impressing during five preseason matches. Chivas plays Wednesday night against Club Tijuana in San Diego.
The former U.S. youth national-teamer, from youth-club giant San Diego Surf, played last year with third-tier Murcielagos and was with indoor club Tijuana Revolucion, from the Professional Arena Soccer League, when he joined Chivas' camp.
Romero has two goals in preseason matches, tied for the league lead, after tallying off the bench in a 5-0 romp of minor-leaguers FC Hasental and last week's 3-2 loss to the Galaxy.
CARSON -- Rauwshan McKenzie has patiently awaited his chance, and he's willing to wait a little longer, if need be.
The 25-year-old center back, Chivas USA's newest signing, mostly has sat and watched through his first four Major League Soccer seasons, and a fine showing in the Goats' preseason camp the past month or so probably isn't going to give him a regular starting gig this year either.
But it's going to give him the opportunity to play ample minutes, and with that, who knows?
“I think if you look at his career, if he may have landed in some other places, maybe it would have been a little different, because he does have a lot of ability ...,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said following training Monday at Home Depot Center. “I think he's definitely got the ability to be a good defender in MLS, and we're glad we have the opportunity to have him.”
McKenzie was a raw apprentice in his first two seasons, with Kansas City, where Jimmy Conrad was the leader in the back. He spent the past two years as cover for Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, the best center-back tandem in MLS.
All told, he's played in just 11 league games, 20 first-team competitive matches and 21 reserve-league games. And he figures to back up Heath Pearce and Colombian newcomer John Alexander Valencia in central defense this year.
“Those guys are more experienced than I am,” said McKenzie, who put pen to paper Friday afternoon. “So I just try to learn from them every day in practice. I've obviously got to keep working hard and hope when the opportunity comes that I'm ready to go.”
McKenzie, who joined the Goats as a trialist at the start of preseason camp, has been among the most impressive performers in the club's first six preparation games. He has primarily teamed with Brazilian David Junior Lopes as a backup tandem to Heath Pearce and John Alexander Valencia.
McKenzie, 25, announced he'd signed via his Twitter account, and Chivas USA general manager Jose Domene confirmed it in a text message. The acquisition had been anticipated for more than two weeks; the Goats decided early in camp that they wanted the four-year Major League Soccer veteran.
“Rauwshan is a very solid defender,” Fraser, who coached McKenzie at RSL in 2010, said earlier during camp. “He's another person I've had some experience with. I've been around him a couple of years. He's strong, he's physical, he's a good passer. I think he's a player who can contest for some things here.”
McKenzie, 25, has played a heady game the past month, quickly fitting in and, in scrimmages and matches, providing a calm foundation important when playing next to the erratic Lopes. He could get the chance with Chivas that he hasn't had with Kansas City and RSL.