Saturday, April 4, 2009

Crew v. Chivas USA @ Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif, Sunday, April 5, 8 p.m.

The last time the Crew were at the Home Depot Center, they lifted their first MLS Cup. On Sunday they return under much different circumstances, sitting 11th in the league with a 0-1-2 record after a dispiriting loss to Real Salt Lake on national television just three days ago. (Video)

Eddie Gaven’s take on the Real Salt Lake Massacre of 2009: “We didn’t play very good team defense … from the guys in the front all the way to the guys in the back. We had too many gaps, and that made it very easy for them to play.”

Coach Robert Warzycha said, "I think we have to forget as soon as possible that we were the champions last year. We need to forget about it, start to work hard and get some results."
Something has to change if the Black & Gold hope to avoid starting the 2009 campaign with a four-game winless streak, which would be the worst start since 2004.

Captain Frankie Hejduk had been expected to return to the line up at right back but was reported as questionable late Saturday. Hejduk's absence has been noticable as he has been away for a successful two-game stint with the U.S. National Team. Also retuning full strength should be Alejandra Moreno, who played briefly Thursday after returning from international duty with Venezuela. Jason Garey won’t play, and Pat Noonan is still out to injury.

The Crew will need all the help they can get. Chivas are off to their best start in franchise history, having beaten the Colorado Rapids 2-1 in their home opener (Video) and FC Dallas 2-0 last week on the road (Video).

Nine Chivas players are out or injured: Bobby Burling, Dan Kennedy, Ante Razov, Claudio Suarez, Lawson Vaughn, Sasha Victorine, Michael Lahoud, Alecko Eskandarian and Ante Jazic.

Keep an eye on Chivas forward Eduardo Lillingston, who was signed last month from Mexican club Tecos, and scored a goal against Dallas. He was ineffective in a 2-1 win over Colorado on March 21 and was substituted at halftime.

"It's better, I think the whole team played better (last Sunday)," said Chivas coach Predrag Radosavljević (“Preki”). “When the whole team plays better we're hoping that he plays better. We knew that he had experience in Mexico and he’s played quite a few games and we're hoping that he can come here and help us be better.”

The play of Sacha Kljestan also will be key for Chivas. Kljestan is expected to return to the lineup after disappointing international appearances for the U.S.

Kljestan has a goal and an assist in six games against Columbus.

The Crew split the season series last year, winning the home leg 4-3 on April 12 (Video) then losing away 2-0 on May 31 (Video). Chivas leads the all-time series with 4 wins on 12 goals to the Crew’s 2 wins on 10 goals with 2 ties.

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