The interview previews are back! I know I've kinda slacked off when it comes to these in recent weeks. To be honest, I'm just not sure if they're worth it yet. Not through any lack of effort on the part of the kind bloggers who take time to answer my questions, but rather because I'm not sure if I'm ever asking the right questions. Asking about this player or that might seem helpful, until he doesn't contribute anything to the match.
Such is soccer, though. In any case, ahead of tomorrow's match against Chivas USA Alicia from The Goat Parade and I have decided to interview one another about each's respective teams. Here's what I asked her:
Looking back at the previous game where Chivas USA beat the Portland Timbers 1-nil, Chivas has only notched a handful of wins. What's the missing link in the team? Why isn't Chivas USA in a better position?
Immediately after their victory over Portland on June 4, Chivas lost three straight matches and took a full month to record a victory again. That three game losing streak was the low point of the season, with a formerly dependable defense floundering and an inability to keep leads when necessary. By July, it looked like the team has gotten back on track, but all season they have played steady, not spectacular, soccer. As a result, their home and away splits are very similar, and they are the only team in the league this season to never lose by more than one goal. All of this is to say that they are pretty much in the middle of the league pack.
Chivas USA's biggest move of the year was bringing on Juan Pablo Angel who notched his first goal for the team in his first game. How does this success translate into Chivas USA success? How does he fit in heading towards the play-off push? Should we expect to see him here in Portland?
I think the big question is if Angel can find any consistency for the rest of the season. He is getting older, but his three goal haul from the 22 games he played with the Galaxy is very poor. I think after his goal Saturday there is some more hope that perhaps Angel didn't fit with the Galaxy's tactical system or gel with his teammates on the field, and if that is the case, then it looks like he is already acclimating to life across the hall at the Home Depot Center. But if this is the only goal he scores for the club, then it may not be as significant of a move as Chivas fans hoped.
Since Chivas haven't had to rotate their lineup much this season, I'm not sure if Angel will play Wednesday, but I would like to see him out there to get another shot after his infamous performance at the beginning of the month when the Galaxy lost 3-0 to Portland. If he can return to Jeld-Wen Field and exorcise the demons quickly, then I would imagine that's all the better for him and for Chivas. But if Justin Braun cannot play because of injury, then the chances that Angel will be playing Wednesday are much higher.
Who are some notable players to watch out for in Wednesday's match and what do the bring to the field?
The unquestioned MVPs of Chivas this season are midfielder Nick LaBrocca and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. LaBrocca has gotten a fair amount of attention around the league, as he was selected to the All-Star Game this season and is joint-leading scorer on the team with seven goals. He is the catalyst for Chivas' attack, and his emergence this season has been remarkable, certainly something unexpected when Chivas got him in a trade before the season with Toronto. But LaBrocca really seems to be a terrific star on a team-first group, and he's really helped to transform the ethic of the club.
As for Kennedy, in a league where good goalkeepers are relatively easy to find, it is difficult for some guys to get recognition. Kennedy is one of those guys. I think every week he demonstrates his worth to the team by making save after save, often bailing out his defense in the process. I think relative to the top keepers in the league, Kennedy needs to be considered among the best, and with the exception perhaps of Stefan Frei of Toronto, is an outstanding goalkeeper who has a weaker defense than the other top keepers.
Projected starting line up?
(This is kind of a stab in the dark, in part because Robin Fraser tends to rotate midweek, although with a game this important I'm not sure how much rotating he'll do, and because I'm not sure about the injury statuses of Justin Braun and Zarek Valentin. I'm going to assume those guys are out.)
GK: Dan Kennedy
DF: Michael Lahoud, Heath Pearce, Michael Umana, Ante Jazic
MF: Ben Zemanski, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores
FW: Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno
Thanks, once again, to Alicia Ratterree for taking time out of her busy day to answer some questions.