Got any travel plans for late-February or early-March?
If you don't, and have some time and money, you may want to head up to the Rose City, where Chivas USA will be one of four teams to participate in a preseason tournament in Portland February 27-March 4, 2012. Besides the Goats, the San Jose Earthquakes, Swedish club AIK, and of course the Portland Timbers will participate. AIK, based in Stockholm, will also be in pre-season training, after finishing 2nd in the Swedish first division in 2011. It should prove a good test for Chivas, Portland and San Jose, none of whom made the MLS Cup playoffs in 2011.
While Portland is a fun city to visit and Jeld-Wen Field has a kind of atmosphere that few sports stadiums in North America offer, I think this is a very useful opportunity for Chivas. I watched a lot of the Timbers' home matches on television in 2011, and I noted when Chivas lost to them 1-0 August 24 that I believed the turf made a real difference in the match. Although Timbers fans I've talked to insist the turf is very similar to natural grass, I do think the ball plays differently on Jeld-Wen's field than it does anywhere else in the league. I've noticed opponents overhit passes on the field on a regular basis, and the very narrow pitch means it can be difficult to find space on the field. In contrast, the Home Depot Center's field is natural grass and is a very wide field, so naturally the club is more adept at playing in essentially opposite conditions. If Chivas can get their sea legs under them, so to speak, it could prove really useful in a regular-season match-up in 2012.I can't guarantee the weather will be great that time of year in Oregon, but I think inclement weather could help Chivas as well, as they get used to new conditions that are unlikely to be present in Southern California. It should be a fun and hopefully productive tune-up for Chivas, who will start the regular season a week after their final match in this tourney.
Here's the schedule (it's a round robin format; all times are PST):
Monday, February 27:
Chivas USA vs. AIK (5 pm)
San Jose vs. Portland (7:30 pm)
Thursday, March 1:
AIK vs. San Jose (5 pm)
Portland vs. Chivas (7:30 pm)
Sunday, March 4:
San Jose vs. Chivas (5 pm)
AIK vs. Portland (7:30 pm)
No word at this point if there will a stream available for these matches, although I'm guessing there will be. We'll let you know if we find anything out.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!