In the biggest test yet for the 2013 Chivas USA team, today they faced fellow MLS side Chicago Fire in a preseason scrimmage at the Home Depot Center complex, and drew 1-1. Miller Bolanos opened the scoring for the Goats in the 39th minute off an assist from Juan Agudelo, before Chicago tied it up in the 52nd minute via Yazid Atouba, who is an as-yet-unsigned 2013 SuperDraft pick by the Fire.
The game was not entirely regulation, as they played a first 45 minutes, followed by two 30 minute periods. Obviously, with the massive substitutions, that also marked it as distinct from the typical competitive game.
Chivas' starting lineup was as follows: Tim Melia; Walter Vilchez, Joaquin Velasquez, Mario de Luna; Laurent Courtois, Giovani Casillas, Edgar Mejia, Carlos Alvarez, Marky Delgado; Miller Bolaños, Juan Agudelo
So, no new names among this group, although I am suspecting now that Velasquez will be playing and not coaching, considering he has played each preseason match and started this one. One interesting observation - Chelís has been playing three center backs so far in preseason, including this match, so I think Courtois and Delgado were deployed as wingbacks to assist in the defending, but to push up as much as possible. If the coach is indeed planning on a flexible 3-5 at the back system, one that is being used increasingly in Mexico, that could represent a real tactical innovation in MLS. Although clubs occasionally play three defenders, I can't recall any in the last couple years that have really stuck to that as a fundamental formation.
Following that, the team was replaced wholesale, with Marvin Iraheta, Jose Manuel Rivera, Carlos Borja, Oswaldo Minda, Patrick McLain, Rodrigo Lopez, Steve Purdy, Josue Soto, and James Riley entering the field. Again, no new names here, although Minda saw his first game action of the preseason today.
According to the available information, the final subs of the game were Daniel Antunez, Eric Avila, and Emilio Orozco. Ben Zemanski warmed up early in the second half, but he never played, and Dan Kennedy once again sat out the match. Jose Correa didn't feature, either, although he has in the other two games.
Chivas USA have a new trialist (or loanee, it is hard to tell) in Julio Morales, a California-born former member of Chivas de Guadalajara's U20 team. He's only 19, and
since he just joined the team yesterday, I guess he wasn't ready to see game action. (Update: Morales did enter the game, in the 58th minute).
Former Chivas USA defender Rauwshan McKenzie, who has been on trial with the Fire, entered the game for Chicago in the 61st minute.
In addition to Shalrie Joseph, Ante Jazic hasn't played a minute in preseason matches. Whether he is hurt or off the team is unclear, although the silence all around may be an indication that he has been shown the door. When we find out definitive word, we'll let you know.
Again, as it is a preseason match, the result doesn't matter. It seems Chelís is getting a better sense of who will contribute and who won't be able to in 2013, and the fact that the Goats kept up with a fellow MLS opponent, and one that made the playoffs last season at that, is promising. But these matches are just preparation for when they really start counting, from March 2 onward!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!