CARSON CA - JULY 31: Blast from the past: Borja featured for the Blues (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Since the regular season has started, we've moved from preseason matches to reserve team matches for games that are outside the main schedule. Chivas USA were originally set to take on the LA Galaxy Monday in the first official MLS Reserve League match of the season, but it was postponed, presumably because the Galaxy is busy playing in two competitions at once, MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League. As a result, Chivas went out and found an alternate opponent in local USL-PRO side LA Blues, and played them as a reserve team match Monday. However, they lost 1-0. That said, there were some mitigating factors, most notably that Chivas were playing several trialists and Youth Academy players in the match, in order for Coach Robin Fraser to evaluate potential players who may help round out the first team roster.
The Blues got the win on a second half goal from Matt Fondy, a product of UC Santa Cruz. Several players on the Blues have MLS connections, including former Real Salt Lake forward Artur Aghasyan, defender Nelson Akwari (who played for several MLS clubs), and a player familiar to Chivas fans, defender Carlos Borja.
As previously known, Dallman and Gordon are trialists. In his match report on ESPN LA, Scott French notes that Dallman sustained a hamstring injury during the game and that will probably put his chances of making the first team in jeopardy. Another trialist, Mario Ledezma, replaced Dallman in the match.
Delgado, of course, is an Academy member. He was replaced in the match by fellow Academy member Eric Gonzalez.
Romero and Townsend came in towards the end of the match Sunday against Houston, but I am guessing they were playing in this match to get more sharpness and work on their finishing ability. They may have been played together in order to try and build a chemistry, especially if Fraser is going to continue with a defensive-oriented lineup and will only bring the pair on towards the end of matches. Romero was replaced for the second half by trialist John Owoeri, who was announced last week but it was amidst the deluge of coverage regarding the start of the season. Owoeri is a former Nigerian youth international, and is a 25 year old forward. In his report, French notes that Owoeri couldn't get any good chances on goal. I would give you a breakdown about him, but the reliable information on him is sketchy. He is/was evidently a player with Egyptian club Ismaily SC, but I don't know if he is out of contract or if he is looking for other options with the suspension of the Egyptian Premier League for the remainder of it's season due to the Port Said massacre.
One key question in the lineup is perhaps why Smith and Bolanos started the reserve match and not Sunday's. I think Smith's absence from the starting lineup is explained in my match report on the Dynamo game as the absence of Michael Lahoud because of injury and Fraser's belief in the need for ample defensive cover in the midfield led to him preferring Ben Zemanski on the right wing for defense and Laurent Courtois on the left wing for offense. And Smith did see time in the second half against Houston. I suppose the same explanation could be made for Bolanos, as Fraser went with a primarily-defensive central midfield Sunday. Since Chivas' attack was so hapless with only two offensive players playing for the first hour or so, Fraser probably should include another attacker or two moving forward. But as I said previously, I endorse Fraser's emphasis on defense early, as that seemed to be a bigger issue than offense heading into the season. Still, I hope we get to see Bolanos with the first team in a competitive match sooner than later.
French also noted that Chivas will have another reserve game next week against UC Riverside, and then Fraser and the front office are supposed to make decisions regarding the trialists. Knowing how the club has worked in the past, I think the chance that said decisions may not be quick and definitive is rather high. Surely making a good decision that takes time is preferable to making a quick and incorrect decision, but I doubt the roster will be completely set in the next couple of weeks.
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