Los Angeles Soccer: Simon Elliott

CHIVAS: Healthier Gavin good for Goats

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
9:59
PM PT

Blair GavinNed Dishman/Getty ImagesChivas USA hopes Blair Gavin is trying to come back from a hamstring injury and could play Sunday.


CARSON -- Blair Gavin hopes he has turned a corner on a longstanding hamstring problem after missing a good deal of preseason and Chivas USA's first three Major League Soccer games this year.

He played the second half in an unannounced friendly Thursday against Thousand Oaks-based fourth-division club FC Hasental, converting a penalty kick in a 5-0 victory at Home Depot Center's Track and Field Stadium.

“I'm getting there,” said Gavin, a third-year midfielder with exceptional skill and ideas who has battled hamstring injuries since his rookie year with the Goats. “It's a process, as usual with most injuries, but it's coming along, getting better. It's going in the right direction.”

Gavin could be available for Sunday's game vs. early Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center, but likelier will be in coach Robin Fraser's plans for Monday's MLS Reserve League opener against the Galaxy. He's been out since mid-February and missed eight games before getting a few minutes in the March 18 friendly against UC Riverside. Thursday's game was just his fifth game appearance this year for the Goats.

The constant injuries are trying, but Gavin says he's encouraged by his progress and how strategies developed by the training staff, to deal with physiological issues, has helped him.

“I love soccer, so [rehabbing injuries] is the things you've got to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, I've been injured for a long time, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I do the right things so it it will prevent it from happening, but if it happens, then so be it, and I've got to work at it.”

Fraser said the club has been “very mindful of Blair and his history in his recovery” as it works to “do everything we can to eliminate this happening again.”

Gavin was happy to be in a game situation, but he acknowledged a “lot of stray touches that can be better. Just got to get my sharpness back. That comes with games, comes with practices. When you're off for four or five weeks, your touch isn't exactly where you want it to be.”

Fraser praised Gavin's “good ideas, good decisions when to keep it, when to push the pace a little bit” and noted that “when he's healthy, he puts himself into [lineup] contention right away.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Victor Manuel Chavez, one of the four Mexican youngsters in camp from the Sensifut academy in Torreon, scored twice in the victory, and Gerardo Daniel Torres also saw action.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Preseason 2012 quick look

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
10:12
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Robin FraserVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesRobin Fraser is rebuilding his roster again this winter.

CARSON -- Chivas USA's preparations for the 2012 season began with medical exams Sunday and moves onto good, old Field 6 at Home Depot Center on Monday morning, with head coach Robin Fraser welcoming a lot of new faces -- and not all of them, by any means, under contract.

The Goats have unloaded nearly half their 2011 roster and added a half-dozen or so new names, and if Fraser's second preseason in charge is anything like the first, plenty of trialists will get a look.

Chivas brass last year looked at more than 80 players, including academy kids, as Fraser and general manager Jose Domene presided over a rebuild that the coach said was more building “from scratch.”

Fraser's idea this year is to have a team in place as the preseason starts, but he's got roster spots to fill and areas of great need and not all negotiations are finished. Five players will be added in Tuesday's supplemental draft, and another overseas signing is possible.

Here's a quick look at the Goats as their campaign begins:

  • LAST YEAR?
Chivas endured the kind of up-and-down season common to rebuilding years in 2011, playing some exceptional possession soccer but suffering from inconsistency at both ends. The Goats won back-to-back games just once, in April, and watched .500 slip away over the last two-thirds of the season. Playoff hopes died with a seven-game winless streak in August and September.

Nonetheless, Fraser and his staff built a strong foundation, several players -- especially goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, midfielder Nick LaBrocca and defender Heath Pearce -- enjoyed remarkable seasons and the addition of Juan Pablo Angel, in an August trade from the Galaxy, gave the Goats their first top-class MLS striker since Ante Razov.

(Read full post)

GALAXY: Sarvas the prize as roster grows

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
4:58
PM PT

The Galaxy made the deepest plunge in Major League Soccer's second-stage re-entry draft, grabbing the rights to four veterans in positions Bruce Arena said the club needed depth and keeping the rights to two defenders whose options had been declined.


But the biggest acquisition the Galaxy coach/general manager mentioned in Monday's post-draft teleconference isn't official. Yet.

Arena said L.A., indeed, has signed Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican power Alajuelense. Sarvas, 30, last week told Costa Rican website Al Pie del Deporte that he had agreed to a two-year deal with the Galaxy.

Asked about Sarvas, Arena first hesitated and asked the Galaxy's media director where the club stood on an announcement. Then he said: “We've signed that player, and we will in the next day or two get out a release on him. He's a good, experienced, two-way midfielder I think is going to help our team.”

So, in theory, will goalkeeper Jon Conway, defenders Andrew Boyens and Chris Leitch, and forward Pat Noonan, whose rights were acquired during Monday's draft. The Galaxy also reacquired the rights to defenders Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson.

“Our selections were based simply on covering some positions, and as you know the rules, we have seven days to reach agreement with the players,” Arena said. “Whether we do or not remains to be seen. What we were able to do is select players in some positions we believe we need cover for. They're all veteran players, they have experience, and they're good players for the locker room. At the end of the day, if we get some of them or all of them, they'll all be a positive asset for our team.”

The Galaxy took Boyens, 28, a tall central defender from New Zealand who played in a dozen league games last season for Chivas USA, with the fifth selection of the first round. Leitch, 32, an outside back who has spent the past three seasons in San Jose, was taken at the end of the second round.

By then everybody else was done, and Arena added Noonan, 31, from Seattle and Conway, 34, from Chicago, then grabbed the rights to Hejduk, a reserve outside back for L.A. last season, and Robinson, a center back whom L.A. acquired in a trade from Toronto FC in September.

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No L.A., Chivas changes on re-entry list

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
3:19
PM PT

No changes in the list of Galaxy and Chivas USA players available for Monday's second-stage draft in Major League Soccer's re-entry process.

Galaxy defenders Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson are up for grabs, and so is the Chivas USA quintet of goalkeeper Zach Thornton, defender Andrew Boyens, midfielders Simon Elliott and Mariano Trujillo, and forward Chukwudi Chijindu.

Vancouver midfielder Peter Vagenas, the former Galaxy captain from Pasadena and UCLA, and Portland midfielder Rodrigo Lopez, from Wilmington, also are on the list.

Chivas has the No. 4 selection in the draft, and the Galaxy pick 18th.

Clubs must make contract offers within seven days to players selected in the second stage of the draft and retain the rights of those taken if an agreement can't be reached. They may select their own players in the draft only after every other club has passed on them.

Those not selected become free agents.

Among the more interesting players on the list are midfielders Baggio Husidic (from Chicago) and Clyde Simms (D.C. United), and defenders Marc Burch (D.C.), Ryan Cochrane (New England), Jonathan Leathers (Vancouver), Chris Leitch (San Jose) and Shavar Thomas (Sporting Kansas City).

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CHIVAS USA: Alvarez arrives via re-entry

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
4:48
PM PT
Chivas USA has decided to invest in veteran winger/forward Arturo Alvarez, claiming him in Monday's first-stage draft in Major League Soccer's re-entry process, even with his salary close to $200,000.

Alvarez, 26, a Texan who plays for El Salvador's national team after representing the U.S. at the youth levels, has scored 24 goals and 20 assists in 187 MLS games over nine seasons, but he's coming off an unhappy experience at Real Salt Lake, where he played in just 16 games, starting eight, in 2011.

He has started 20 games in a season just three, in 2007 at FC Dallas, in 2008 between Dallas and San Jose, and in 2009 in San Jose. He scored a career-best six goals in 2008 and five the following season.

“Arturo is a player who I've always thought had a very interesting skill set,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “He's very, very comfortable on the ball, good taking players on. The type of player who I think it is very difficult for defenders to deal with.”

Alvarez is out-of-contract, and Chivas is forced to make a “Bona Fide Offer” that is at least equal to Alvarez's 2011 salary, which was $192,585 ($201,933.50 average guaranteed compensation). The forward also is believed to be considering options in Mexico.

“I think there is a possibility that Arturo has had an eye for leaving the league for a long time ...,” Fraser said. “The word on him is thatt he's always wanting to go overseas. Hopefully, he's interested in staying. Perhaps he goes overseas and doesn't like to options available to him, in which case we have the opportunity to keep him.”

Fraser said Alvarez's price tag was not a deterrent.

“There's a negotiation to be had, no matter what,” Fraser said. “I think he's a player who can be extremely, extremely dangerous in this league and has shown he's a player who can be very dangerous creating opportunities both for himself and other people. We don't necessarily look at that number and say no way, because we do think he can be very productive.”

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Options declined for Cristman, Jazic

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
9:01
AM PT

The Galaxy declined options on forward Adam Cristman and defender Frankie Hejduk, who played in Wednesday's friendly in Indonesia. Chivas USA passed on starting left back Ante Jazic.

All three are among 69 players available in Monday's first-stage draft of Major League's Soccer's re-entry process.

The Galaxy also declined the option on defender Dasan Robinson, acquired in mid-September from Toronto FC, who also played in he Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Indonesia's national team to start its postseason tour of Asia and Australia.

Chivas declined options on goalkeeper Zach Thornton, defender Andrew Boyens, midfielder/defender Mariano Trujillo and forward Chukwudi Chijindu and decided not to offer a new contract to midfielder Simon Elliott.

Clubs may negotiate with their players, and players may opt out of the process, through Friday.

The Galaxy might want to bring back Hejduk and Robinson, but not at their current salaries -- Hejduk made $96,000 this year, Robinson $97,500. Their intentions with Cristman seem clearer: He was making only $42,000, a relative bargain.

Jazic, who at 35 had one of his finest MLS campaigns, also is a money decision. He made $115,000 this year, and the Goats would like to pare that number considerably. It is unlikely any of the other five on Chivas' list will return next season.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Keller draws tributes

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
7:48
AM PT

Kasey KellerSteven Bisig/US PresswireKasey Keller, whose stellar career certainly stands out, draws rave reviews from peers.

The most noteworthy thing in Chivas USA's season finale Saturday night at Home Depot Center: It's Kasey Keller's final regular-season game.

Keller, an American soccer legend whose 20-year career has taken him from Olympia, Wash., to the University of Portland to clubs in England (Millwall, Leicester City, Tottenham, Southampton and Fulham), Spain (Rayo Vallecano) and Germany (Borusssia Mönchengladbach), three World Cups and, with the Seattle Sounders' 2009 establishment in Major League Soccer, back to his roots. He'll retire when Seattle wins this year's MLS Cup title or is eliminated in the playoffs.

There are four goalkeepers, all recent, that stand tall in American soccer's annals: Keller, Tony Meola, Brad Friedel and current No. 1 Tim Howard. Keller might stand tallest, and his greatest performance -- spectacularly shutting out Brazil in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals; he was so good that Romario shook his hand after one save -- might be the finest moment in U.S. Soccer history.

We asked five people, from Chivas USA and the Galaxy, who have played with or coached Keller, their impressions of the 41-year-old netminder.


ROBIN FRASER
Chivas USA's head coach played in central defense for the U.S. national team, with Keller barking orders behind him.

“Kasey's been big in this country. He's been big for this country. He's done extremely well wherever hes been. It's obviously good to see him ending his career on a high point with a team that's doing well. ...

“Kasey is a good shot-stopper. I think to make it at as high a level as he has for as long as he has, you have to have a sheer determination, a sheer will to win. I think he's got that.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: No time for failure

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
3:26
PM PT

Chivas USA is going through its most difficult stretch of the season, with three straight losses and five matches without a win when victories are absolutely necessary to stay in the playoff race.

And the Goats (7-11-10), who have been beaten down by defensive liabilities and possession breakdowns, heads into Saturday afternoon's Major League Soccer game at Chicago missing another center back -- and considering a change in how they go about things.

David Junior Lopes is out after picking up a questionable red card in last week's loss to D.C. United, and with backline leader Heath Pearce out with a hamstring injury (and previous backline leader Jimmy Conrad retired after a concussion), there's not much depth in central defense.

Pearce, officially, is “questionable,” but he's targeting next Saturday's game -- at home against Toronto FC -- for his return. Chivas plays Wednesday at D.C. United.

Figure Andrew Boyens to team with Michael Umaña in the middle, with Chivas possibly taking a more conservative tack with its possession plan.

“We’ve got Andy Boyens, who has been training hard, and it’s an opportunity,” said midfielder Simon Elliott. “Heath’s on the mend -- he’ll be back soon -- but you have to look at it as an opportunity for someone to be raising their hand and saying, 'I deserve to play every week.' It’s what-are-you-preparing-to-do time.”

It has to happen now. The Goats have six games remaining, and they're only three points out of a playoff spot -- but are sixth of seven teams fighting for three berths (and separated by six points). And they're in the worst form of the seven.

“We have to win games,” Elliott said. “I think by and large the powers that be, the staff, the strength and conditioning guys, they get it right. From what I can tell, we focus on the right things. And as players, we have to put out hand up. We have to execute. We can't just talk about it, we have to go out and do it.”

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CHIVAS USA: D.C. debacle hurts playoff bid

September, 11, 2011
9/11/11
12:54
AM PT

CARSON -- The playoff chase isn't yet over for Chivas USA, although it might look like it following Saturday night's 3-0 disaster against D.C. United.

Charlie Davies scored twice in the first 14 minutes, then completed his hat trick in the second half as United (8-7-10) took a huge step toward a postseason berth in the first of two meetings over 12 days.

The Goats (7-11-10), who would have climbed to ninth overall with a victory, came out with little intensity and were quickly finished -- a devastating result in what amounted to a must-win game, a prospect all the more attractive after the four teams directly ahead of them in the overall standings failed to win Saturday.

“Obviously, that’s as bad as it gets,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser, whose 10 previous losses were all by one goal. “The disappointing part was that we didn’t give ourselves a chance. So early in the game, to give up goals on simple turnovers that lead to goals is just unacceptable.

“When you’re chasing the game at 2-0, then we get into the second half and give up another goal on a counterattack, tackles being missed and individual small things leading to goals. It’s just not good enough.”

Chivas had more of the ball but little of the game after falling behind, and not much could be done against an organized D.C. defense, which left few gaps to exploit and prevented the Goats from creating much in the final third.

Said forward Juan Pablo Angel: “I don't even know where to start. We were outplayed, outrun. All the things we needed to do today, we didn't do it. The first thing we needed to realize is we were playing for a chance to be in the playoffs, and that was a team that we needed to beat. Especially at home. We weren't up to the standard that we require to win these games. Simple as that.”

Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius assisted all three goals by Davies, but he suffered a possible broken leg while diving in against Chivas center back David Junior Lopes for a loose ball in the 68th minute. The sound of the crack was explosive -- it could be heard in every corner of the stadium.

Lopes, who hurt his right knee on the play, not seriously, was red-carded although it appeared Pontius leapt at him with both feet.

“I don't know [what happened],” Lopes said afterward. “I went after the ball, and after I hit the ball, I don't know what happened.”

Fraser acknowledged that referee Ricardo Salazar's decision to send off Lopes was “a call I guess I would question,” but Davies called the incident “ugly, because I felt the guy really didn't need to slide, because he was first to the ball. And that's when it looked more malicious, because the intent was there to hurt Chris.”

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Pearce out 4 to 6, maybe less

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
3:25
PM PT
CARSON -- It's the “best of bad news,” says Heath Pearce, who is expected to miss four to six weeks for Chivas USA after an MRI earlier this week found the expected tear in his right hamstring.
Pearce, who was hurt in the Goats' loss Saturday night to Real Salt Lake, says he has a different timeline.

“They say four to six for the average person, but I'm not the average person,” the team's backline leader said following Wednesday's training session at Home Depot Center. “So I'm aiming for three to four.”

The injury a grade 1 hamstring pull, and the MRI found no correlation to a significant “bordering grade 3” hamstring injury that ended Pearce's season last year at FC Dallas.

“It's a light one. It's not extreme in any sense,” Pearce said. “There's not a lot of bruising -- actually, there's no bruising. There's no defects in the muscle that they felt for. ... It's the lowest level of tear on the spectrum.”

Chivas has added depth in central defense after signing David Junior Lopes earlier this month, but Pearce had played every minute this season before exiting Saturday in the 61st minute after “cutting kind of gently to my left and [feeling] a pop in my hamstring.”

The Goats are desperate for points as they battle for a playoff berth, and Pearce could miss as many as five games, including two crucial meetings with D.C. United and must-win encounters at Chicago and against Toronto FC. He'd like to be back in time for the second D.C. game, on Sept. 21 in Washington.

“Generally, it's four to six,” Pearce said. “I like to think with our activity levels and between the staff and myself and how I feel my body recovers, I think it should be on the shorter side. Four, if not three.”

Head coach Robin Fraser says “that's the attitude you want to have an athlete to have” and that he “hopes it won't be a long-, long-term thing, but hamstrings are finicky, so we'll just keep watching him and keep our fingers crossed a bit.”

A TIME TO REST: Saturday's scheduled MLS Reserve League game against Vancouver has been pushed back to mid-October, so the team will have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. How big is that?

(Read full post)

Hope Solo? OK. But please not ...

August, 29, 2011
8/29/11
8:50
PM PT
U.S. women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo, one of the primary figures during this summer's Women's World Cup, will be on this season's edition “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC.

Remember when Landon Donovan was supposed to be in the cast a year or two ago? Still waiting.

We think Solo will do just fine, and her Pacific Northwest indie vibe should add to the reality show's personality.

All of this got us thinking: Who from L.A.'s soccer world would we like to see on “DWTS”? And who would be a nightmare?
  • A 'DANCING' STAR? WHY NOT?
1. LANDON DONOVAN: The Galaxy captain's schedule precludes him from appearing, at least for a few more years, but his agility, pace, intelligence, fitness and creativity could make him a winner. For real.

2. JULIE FOUDY: The U.S. women's national team legend, women's sport activist and ESPN commentator from Mission Viejo has the best combination of smarts and personality in the American game, and although she would most self-effacingly claim she's not fit for the assignment, we think she'd pull it off just fine.

3. DAVID BECKHAM: Could he do it? Of course. Would he have been better five years ago? Yep. Would “DWTS” ever see better ratings? Not a chance.

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CHIVAS USA: RSL loss hurts in several ways

August, 27, 2011
8/27/11
11:40
PM PT

CARSON -- Chivas USA gave up a horrid early goal, went a man up not long afterward and followed with perhaps their finest possession soccer of the season in a debilitating 1-0 loss Saturday night to visiting Real Salt Lake. It didn't add up to much.


There was a lot of good and just enough bad to derail the Goats in the disappointing loss, a result that leaves them scrambling as they seek some way into Major League Soccer's playoffs.

Chivas (7-10-10), which with a victory would have vaulted into 10th place -- just inside MLS's postseason zone -- finds itself in 12th with just one win in its last six games and no goals in five of its last eight.

“We're not doing ourselves any favors ...,” said left back Ante Jazic, whose misplayed back pass led to Alvaro Saborio's 11th-minute goal for RSL. “We still hold our fate in our own hands, but we have to start picking up points soon. That's for sure.”

Chivas was superb from the moment Saborio fired into an open net until the halftime whistle blew, holding nearly constant possession -- especially after RSL center back Nat Borchers was red-carded in the 24th minute for a last-man foul on Nick LaBrocca just outside the Utahns' box.

They had some chances -- the best: Juan Pablo Angel hit the crossbar, and his late blast and LaBrocca's glancing header tested RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando -- but not nearly enough for all the time they had the ball, and nearly nothing in a chaotic second half.

“You can't be a man up for that long and not score a goal,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser, who fell to his old boss -- RSL coach Jason Kreis -- for the second time this season. “That's the story of the game.”

Even worse, the Goats lost star center back Heath Pearce to a probable torn right hamstring in the second half.

A quick look at Chivas' defeat:

BEST PLAYER: Chivas got outstanding performances in the first half from midfielders LaBrocca, Blair Gavin and Simon Elliott, who set the tone for the Goats' domination by winning nearly every battle they entered and with precise, pretty ball movement that kept RSL on its heels from when they scored until halftime.

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CHIVAS USA: Timbers push past Goats

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
11:25
PM PT

Ante JazicJonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesChivas USA's Ante Jazic gets in front of Portland's Sal Zizzo as they battle for the ball in Wednesday's game.


As far as Chivas USA has progressed in its first season under Robin Fraser, and as impressive as the Goats often have been -- especially when they get their possession game going -- Wednesday's loss exposed an ugly truth.

After 26 games, Chivas sits behind the Portland Timbers, whose first season in Major League Soccer has perhaps too often been characterized as farce.

The Timbers (9-12-5, 32 points) looked very serious in completing a home sweep of the L.A. clubs, using Eric Brunner's header from a corner kick at the end of the first half to pull out a 1-0 triumph, their third successive home victory, before the usual crazies at sold-out Jeld-Wen Field.

Portland vaulted past Chivas (7-9-10, 31 points) into sixth place in the Western Conference and into 11th in the overall standings, just outside the playoff zone, with eight games to go. There's a battle among eight clubs, all within five points, for sixth through 13th places.

Chivas started slowly again, as in Seattle and Colorado, with Portland having all of the ball most of the first half. If not for goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's usual heroics, the Goats would have been behind early and out of the game by halftime.

Instead, they nearly made it to halftime even -- until Brunner deposited Mike Chabala's cross inside the far post from a 44th-minute corner kick.

By then, Fraser had already burned two of his three substitutions -- Michael Lahoud and Paulo Nagamura had to leave with injuries -- and he used his last one to bring on Justin Braun in the 60th minute. His energy sparked Chivas' attack, and the Goats dictated play most of the rest of the way, nearly pulling even on three occasions:

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CHIVAS USA: Angel era begins for Goats

August, 20, 2011
8/20/11
10:44
AM PT

Chivas USA has had more prominent stars -- Mexican legends Claudio Suarez and Ramon Ramirez finished their careers for the Rojiblancos -- but it's fair to say L.A.'s No. 2 club has never had a difference-maker like this before.

Juan Pablo Angel, widely thought the best striker in Major League Soccer history, makes his Goats debut Saturday evening at Colorado after arriving this week in an around-the-corner trade with the Galaxy.

Chivas hopes he's the piece they've been looking for, the finisher who can cap off all that possession that's gone to waste as often as, or more often than, it has led to chances and goals.

That's what the Galaxy was hoping for, too, but the tall Colombian never found a rhythm in L.A.'s system and was dumped so incoming Irish striker Robbie Keane could fill one of three Designated Player slots. Their archrivals' loss is Chivas' gain.

And head coach Robin Fraser is confident Angel will fit in here.

“I think so. I really do ...,” Fraser said. “First and foremost, look at his professionalism. You look at where he's played and what he's done, his age, and you watch him in training, and his movement is so sharp, because he understands to be a good player, it's about being switched on, it's about being engaged, it's about training at game speed. Just watching him for a couple of days, it's very apparent that he understands this, and that's how he trains, and that's how he intends to go about his business.”

Fraser had not committed to starting Angel in Colorado, but expectations are that he'll lineup next to Alejandro Moreno up top. The next two forwards in the pecking order -- Justin Braun (out with an abdominal strain) and Marcos Mondaini (dealing with an eye injury, but available) -- aren't at full strength.

Angel's addition has boosted confidence in what's usually a pretty confident camp. The Goats (7-8-9) have lost just once in seven games since June 25 -- that a 1-0 decision in triple-digit heat in Dallas -- and scored three times in two of the past four matches. They also have been shut out three times in the last five, two of them 0-0 draws.

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CHIVAS USA: Angel passes character test

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
7:16
PM PT

Juan Pablo AngelVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesJuan Pablo Angel's stint with the Galaxy didn't go as planned. Now, he will try to turn it around with Chivas USA.


CARSON -- The common thread running through virtually every move Chivas USA has made since Robin Fraser was appointed head coach last January has concerned character.

Fraser, once among the finest and most regal center backs in American soccer, and chief assistant coach Greg Vanney, also a dignified defender, are firm believers that doing things the right way, refusing to cut corners, is the only path to true success.

That philosophy has been central in their rebuild of the Goats' roster, with so many of the most important additions -- defenders Heath Pearce and Jimmy Conrad, midfielder Simon Elliott, forward Alejandro Moreno -- players with experience, strong leadership characteristics and uncommon character.

Juan Pablo Angel, acquired in a trade this week from the Galaxy, is something else.

The 35-year-old striker might be the most stately figure in Major League Soccer, a standard-bearer in training and preparation, in his duties to his teammates and his club, is his dealings with opponents and officials.

That, alone, makes him the perfect fit for the Goats.

That he can score goals -- and that Chivas needs a primary goal scorer -- makes it all that much better.

“I heard about [his character] coming into this, and we were able to spend a little time together throughout this process,” Fraser said. “And as impressed as I've been with him as a player for many, many years, I'm even more impressed with the person he is. ... He epitomizes what we want to do here. He's about hard work, he's about the team.”

His training regimen, experience and precision in the box will be a boon for Justin Braun, Chris Cortez and Victor Estupiñan. Rarely do young forwards in this country get to learn from so accomplished a master.

(Read full post)

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