Chivas USA are back from their break and they are hosting the Colorado Rapids Saturday at the HDC (7:30 pm PT, MLS Live, tickets obviously available). Both teams are coming off a win, only the Rapids' win was from just last week, as they beat rival Real Salt Lake 1-0 for their first win of 2013, while Chivas beat the Vancouver Whitecaps two weeks ago 2-1. The Goats are on a two-game winning streak, and a four-game unbeaten streak. Can they continue the momentum onward and upward? We'll get our first glimpse Saturday!
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions feature with Burgundy Wave from Thursday.
In the meantime, let's preview the game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 10 points (3-1-1), 2nd place in Western Conference, 4th place overall; Goal Difference: 3 (10/7); Last five matches: W-W-D-W-L
Colorado Rapids: 5 points (1-3-2), 8th place in Western Conference, 15th place overall; Goal Difference: -2 (5/7); Last five matches: W-D-L-D-L
Key Match-up: Dan Kennedy vs. Clint Irwin
Yeah, I'm going all-goalkeeper here. Do you know who Irwin reminds me of? Dan Kennedy. I don't say those words lightly. He's stepped in for both an injured Matt Pickens and a not-very-good Steward Ceus, and he looks like he should be the Rapids' starter from here on out. He won MLS Save of the Week by saving a penalty kick off Alvaro Saborio last week, the first such unconverted PK in Saborio's MLS career. Besides that, Irwin had eight saves against the LA Galaxy at the HDC in his first MLS start, and was unlucky to have to face a PK in that match, else he could have grabbed an unlikely point practically single-handedly.
Dan Kennedy is a rock. He's been one of the very best keepers in the league the last two years, and with him leading the league in saves, he is still a crucial component to the Goats' chances each and every game. With two goalkeepers coming in and demonstrating their excellent play on a weekly basis, the test will be for each team's attack to pepper the goal with shots and try to put as many bodies and as much activity in the opponent's box as possible. If either side only puts a few shots on goal in this match, the goalkeepers will likely be up to the task, so those shots have to either be phenomenal, or there will need to be a higher volume of shots. Conversely, one or both teams could play poorly overall, but I think both Kennedy and Irwin have the ability to keep their team in the match. It should be interesting to see how this match-up between a veteran and a rookie goes in this game.
Why Chivas will win this match: Sure, they had a break, but that gave them a week to get some guys healthy, including Edgar Mejia and likely Juan Agudelo, who has been training and will probably get some minutes in this match. They've also had another week to get used to playing with each other and honing their game in training, and they have been playing well at the HDC. Although there will be a few notable players out, their injury concerns are on a level nowhere near those of Colorado, who have lost nearly their entire starting eleven to this point. They have been playing well despite their inexperience, but Chivas certainly can find ways to pick the Rapids apart and make them pay. I wouldn't be surprised if Chivas hold on to any early momentum Colorado throws their way, then strikes over the course of the match as they have in the majority of their games, where they stayed patient, then started scoring after the hour mark. Of course, if they score early and often, I won't be bothered either, but I think they can feel out what the Rapids will attempt to do and make adjustments over the course of the game accordingly.
Why Colorado will win this match: If Chivas have the "nobody believed in us!" factor in their favor, so do the Rapids. I think Chivas should be considered the favorites in this game, but that doesn't mean the Rapids can be considered cannon fodder. Like Chivas, they will work hard and hope to take advantage of what will likely be a few chances. They will surely try to send bodies forward to overwhelm Chivas' defense, and they will have some speed on the field, with rookie DeShorn Brown belonging to the school of "super-fast but sometimes suspect at finishing." Former Goat Atiba Harris scored last week, and Edson Buddle may be oft-injured and look uninterested, but he can still pop up and provide quality for his new team. Defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas is Colorado's answer to Oswaldo Minda, and with Minda out for this match, Thomas could pass and foul his way to dominance in the middle of the field. So again, it should not be easy for Chivas, and Colorado will have the underdog spirit in this match and believe they can grab a win yet again.
Why this match will end in a draw: If you could not tell, these teams have quite a few similarities at this point. Oscar Pareja may want to play more of a possession game than Chelís, but both sides know they have to scrap and gut their way to results. As a result, if the game stays close throughout, the result could be a draw. I wouldn't imagine either team would be likely to come down from a multiple-goal deficit, but Chivas have shown they can come back from behind, while Colorado hasn't demonstrated that successfully so far. Still, if this game is tight, I could definitely see a scrappy draw.
Colorado: Diego Calderon (knee), Jaime Castrillon (knee), Martin Rivero (foot), Matt Pickens (arm), Kevin Harbottle (knee), Nick LaBrocca (groin - listed as questionable), Pablo Mastroeni (quad - listed as questionable), Marvell Wynne (knee - listed as questionable)