The MLS Reserve League was back in session for Chivas USA Monday, as they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 in Vancouver. Goals from Laurent Courtois (41st minute), Blair Gavin (66th minute) and Cesar Romero (70th minute) made the difference for the Goats, while Whitecaps U23 PDL player Kianz Froese got the goal for the home team. The win puts Chivas in 1st place in the Reserve League's West Division with a record of 3-1-2.
The record and position in the league are nice accomplishments, and as always, the existence of the Reserve League is good for keeping players who don't see much time with the first team in shape. Still, it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal should be for the first team to get the best results. By no means do I think the coaching staff is prioritizing the Reserve League (they clearly aren't), but the ultimate goal is getting consistent results at the highest level. Let's see the Reserve form translate to the first team, and soon!Here was the starting lineup for today's game: Tim Melia; Bobby Burling, Nelson Akwari, Jorge Villafana, Julio Chavez; Marky Delgado, Tristan Bowen, Blair Gavin, Laurent Courtois, Cesar Romero, Artur Aghasyan
Melia gave up a penalty today in the first half when he brought Vancouver's newest Designated Player Kenny Miller down in the box. Melia saved the penalty taken by Miller, however, so he atoned for his mistake.
Burling is obviously still playing with Chivas, but there's been no word about a contract with the first team. It seems like he'll get a contract, but who knows why the team is waiting to sign him.
Akwari returns for another reserve league game, although there's been no word that he's being seriously considered for a contract at this point. A similar situation is likely at play for Aghasyan, who has played with Chivas' reserves in the past, but he's most recently been playing for Cal FC (aka "Eric Wynalda's (old) team"). Chivas may be giving him another look after Real Salt Lake cut him loose after playing part of 2011 with them, or he might have been called in as a "guest player." We'll have to wait and see if he hangs around.
The match was also Bowen's first with the Goats since his loan last year. To my knowledge, he has not been activated to the first team yet, and there's probably a good chance the coaching staff is using the reserve matches to evaluate his progress since last year.
Chivas used two subs on the day: Jose Dheming replaced Chavez in the 58th minute, while Eric Gonzalez replaced Gavin in the 78th minute. Chavez, Delgado, Dheming and Gonzalez were all part of the Chivas USA Youth Academy U18 team that played in the USSDA Finals Week last week in Houston. In fact, it appears the Academy players flew directly from Texas to Vancouver for this match. Yeah, what were you doing when you were 16 or 17 years old? I know I wasn't criss-crossing the continent playing soccer at youth and senior levels.
Chivas and Vancouver will meet in the Reserve League again August 3rd, at the Home Depot Center complex.
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