Eric Hassli has had quite a roller coaster of a ride to start his MLS career with 3 goals and 2 ejections in 3 appearances. In my opinion Teitur should start his DP and show confidence that the striker is over his on field discipline. Hassli will also tower the Chivas backline as without Jimmy Conrad, Chivas doesn’t have a defender over six feet.
The ten year MLS veteran, Alejandro Moreno, was acquired from Vancouver after he was selected in the expansion draft from Philadelphia. More of a playmaker than a sniper up front, Chivas was hoping that Moreno could help Justin Braun develop into a more prolific striker. The attack will run through Moreno especially with the lack of creativity in the midfield.
After another injury to DeMerit means that Alain Rochat will return to the middle of the back line to anchor the defense. While Rochat was brought in from Switzerland to play as a left back, he has been invaluable at centre half. In fact the team had their best matches defensively when Rochat was asked to lead from the centre back position.
Similar to Rochat, Heath Pearce was acquired to play full back on the left side but is filling in for Jimmy Conrad in the centre. After spending the last two years with FC Dallas, including a MLS Cup run last year, Pearce was traded to Chivas a month before the season started. It will be his job if Conrad is unable to go to lead the defense, especially playing next to rookie Zarek Valentin.
WHO’S ON FORM
If there was any doubt that the Brazilian was a flash in the pan, Camilo proved that he can continue to score in this league. He has now scored three goals in three starts as well as earning a penalty kick converted by Hassli. Camilo has also shown toughness that proves he can handle the physical play of the MLS.
Coming into the season 15 year MLS vet Zach Thornton was thought to be the goalkeeper but after two unimpressive performances, Dan Kennady was given the starting role. He has responded by allowing one goal in two games including a clean sheet last week against the Columbus Crew. Kennedy will need to be on his game if the forwards get a good look on goal.
WHO’S OFF FORM
While many thought Atiba Harris had a very poor game, in my opinion Blake Wagner was worse as he continued to give the ball away as well as not being able to handle Houston’s speed. Despite the poor play Wagner will most likely to see another start as the Caps lack depth on the left side, especially at full back.
After being last year’s leading goal scorer for Chivas USA, the team hoped Justin Braun would be able to raise his game to another level and improve on his nine goal total in 2010. Braun has played virtually every minute this year over four games and is only averaging one shot on target per game which is not up to par for a target striker.
Last Game: 3-1 Loss at Houston Dynamo
Last Game: 0-0 Draw vs Columbus Crew
Atiba Harris has taken a lot of punishment in the first four games and should get the game off with Hassli coming off suspension and Camilo being on a significant hot streak. Teibert and Chiumiento will reunite and start together as the wide midfielders for the first time since the opener. Rookie Jeb Brovsky gets his second straight start while Khalfan starts for the first time in the central midfield. The backline consists of four defenders (Wagner, Rochat, Boxall, and Leathers) that had the best performance by any combination this season in the game against the Revolution. Although Nolly has improved his game and can only be faulted for one of the goals against Houston, it might be time to see what veteran Joe Cannon is able to do for the Caps.
Expect Chivas to start a similar line up to the one that started against Columbus and earned a scoreless draw. Braun and Moreno should start up front with the possibility of the 14th overall pick in 2011 Victor Estupinan seeing his second start. The midfield should remain the same unless one of the three injured midfielders is deemed fit enough to play. Canadian Antze Jazic starts at left back while Lahoud starts on the right with Pearce and Valentine in the middle. If Conrad is healthy enough to play or Boyens is fit enough expect one of them to start in the centre and either Pearce goes to the left or Valentin goes to the right. There is no reason that the goalkeeper position belongs to Dan Kennedy at this point of the season.
INJURIES (According to MLS Injury Report: Updated Tuesday)
QUESTIONABLE: MF John Thorrington(quad), MF Shea Salinas (knee), DF Jay DeMerit (groin), MF Terry Dunfield (groin), FW Atiba Harris (knee), MF Russell Teibert (hip)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Jimmy Conrad (concussion), MF Pablo Nagamura (calf)
If the Whitecaps want to compete for a playoff spot, they have to find a way not to give up points at home and be able to get full results. The full three points are especially required when facing teams that are perceived by experts to lack talent. With a week off expect the Whitecaps to bring more energy to the pitch than what they brought to the Houston fixture. If neither Conrad nor Boyens are able to start, the Caps will have a distinct height advantage in the final third as either or both Hassli and Harris would tower over a backline where not one player reaches six feet. The Caps also need the central midfield combo of Brovsky and Khalfan play close to a mistake free game and avoid turning over the ball. After losing 3-1 to Houston, the Whitecaps need to bounce back and prove that they are a team that can compete in the MLS.