It was a game that had a regular season-type atmosphere, and Chivas USA were able to come away with a result, drawing 1-1 with the Portland Timbers at Jeld-wen Field Thursday evening. The Goats got the lead in the 20th minute when trialist Alan Souza was able to capitalize on a botched clearance in the Timbers end, and sent a cross from the right into the box. Cesar Romero pounced on the cross and scored easily, and Chivas were riding high. Although holding onto a lead would have of course been great, the Timbers knotted up the score in the 78th minute when Ryan Kawulok, whose signing was announced just today, scored off a corner kick.
Was it a fair result? Yes. Chivas controlled the first half while the Timbers took over in the second half. It's difficult to know how realistic this performance would have been in the regular season, though. Both teams started the match with mostly second-stringers and a few trialists, and Chivas' unit looked far better than Portland's. But both teams put in a number of starters and more reserves in the lineups at the restart and throughout the second half, so that probably explains the disjointed feel to the proceedings on the night. But it's preseason - that's what these matches are for.Here was the starting lineup for the Goats: Tim Melia; Scott Gordon, David Junior Lopes, Rauwshan McKenzie, Ante Jazic; Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski, Alan Souza, Laurent Courtois; Casey Townsend, Cesar Romero
Melia had a good match overall. He was decisive in clearing corner kicks, and was willing to come out of goal in order to stop a forward from getting a shot off. He seems like he can be a more-than-competent backup to Dan Kennedy.
Gordon, a trialist, had a good first half at right back. He is so skinny, but so are most American soccer players, frankly. I didn't see any major mistakes on his part in this match.
Zemanski and LaBrocca really did a fantastic job patrolling the center of the midfield in the first half. Zemanski was able to cover for the backline on a few occasions, and I still stand by my assertion that he can become an elite defensive midfielder in the league.
Townsend and Romero played surprisingly well together. I still am not sure I would throw them out there up top together against the top defenses in the league, but they were active and looked dangerous. Perhaps most surprisingly, Townsend showed a feisty streak, and maybe stepped a bit over the line in getting into a scuffle towards the end of the first half. If he can harness that energy and use that feisty side to his benefit, it could really come in handy.
Subs at the restart were Juan Pablo Angel for Townsend, John Valencia in for Lopes, Michael Lahoud in for Souza, and Jorge Villafana coming in for Jazic. In the 63rd minute, more subs for the Goats: Miller Bolanos came in for Courtois, and Peter Vagenas entered for LaBrocca. Finally, Oswaldo Minda came on for Zemanski in the 72nd minute. All in all, Robin Fraser looks like he's giving everybody decent minutes in the Portland Tournament.
Coming up: Chivas conclude the tournament by taking on the San Jose Earthquakes Sunday afternoon (2:30 pm PST). No official word yet if this match will have a stream for viewers in Southern California. Although initial reports were that the only game available online was tonight's, rumors on Monday said Chivas and San Jose might find a way to get a stream up for Sunday's match. Keep letting the team know you want one, and perhaps one may appear.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!