Scouting report: A breakdown of what to expect from Friday's clash against Chivas USA
Where to start with this one...
You can only describe this Chivas USA season as one thing: a “rollercoaster ride."
That goes all the way back to preseason.
It all started with the hiring of “spirited” manager Jose Luis Sanchez Scola, better known as “Chelis”. He gave us colorful quotes and left us truly intrigued as to whether he could turn around a struggling franchise.
The team flipped its roster upside down, adding players of Mexican and Latino heritage while sending others packing.
The team ripped off some solid early wins.
Then the bottom fell out.
Chelis was fired at the end of May, Jose Luis Real came in, and the team immediately scrapped the 3-5-2 formation it had deployed for the first three months of the season.
So here we are, in mid-July, with Chivas USA on 14 points and a 3-10-5 record. They are last place in the Western Conference and attempting to salvage a season that went downhill quickly.
Still, they are unbeaten in three straight games and they look exponentially more disciplined and composed than the team that tanked under Chelis.
Chivas' trip to Philadelphia on Friday (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets) wraps up a three-game road swing that already resulted in well-earned draws in Dallas and Montreal.
When the 3-5-2 was junked, Jose Real installed two formations: 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1
To that end, you’re going to see a single striker up top: likely Jose Correa or Tristen Bowen. Correa is listed as questionable with a quad strain, so it looks like Bowen might get the nod on Friday.
Newcomer Jorge Villafana will probably play in one of the midfield spots behind the striker, along with Eric Avila and former Union M/D Gabriel Farfan. Gabe has been playing consistently since joining Chivas USA, and looks to be fitting in well in the midfield role he played before converting to left back for the Union.
There are all sorts of options for the other midfield spots.
Carlos Alvarez is the rookie from Connecticut selected second overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Marco Delgado is a more recent pickup, while Edgar Mejia and Marvin Iraheta have both seen significant minutes as well.
Forward and midfield depth is good, with guys like Julio Morales, Jose Rivera, and Giovanni Casillas all able to contribute.
Factor in 20-year-old Erick Torres who recently joined on loan from parent club Chivas de Guadalajara.
Chivas played 4-1-4-1 when holding midfielder Osvaldo Minda was healthy. He's only played seven games this year and has missed recent action with an abductor strain. Minda is questionable, along with starting center back Mario de Luna.
Enter Carlos Bocanegra, former captain of the United States Men's National Team. “Boca” last played for Racing Santander and would make his Chivas debut if he plays on Friday. He would be a perfect replacement if de Luna can't go.
The other center back will probably be Walter Vilchez, with Bobby Burling providing cover. CB Steve Purdy is playing for El Salvador in the Gold Cup.
The fullbacks are a pair of midfield/hybrid types – Josue Soto and Carlos Borja. Soto normally plays left back, with Borja on the right. Bocanegra can play either of those spots as well.
And in goal, you can't forget about Chivas' top player – 2012 all-star Dan Kennedy. He's endured some tough seasons in Los Angeles, but he's among the best goalkeepers in MLS when he's on his game.
Possible Starting XI: Kennedy (GK), Borja, Vilchez, Bocanegra, Soto, Alvarez, Delgado, Villafana, Farfan, Avila, Bowen (4-2-3-1)
What do you think about what Chivas USA will bring to Chester? Leave a message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org