10:30 pm ET; ONN-TV; MLS Direct Kick, Matchday Live
Chivas USA will have a chance to extend their current two-game unbeaten streak in MLS when they square off against Eastern Conference leaders Columbus on Saturday night. Currently mired in last place in the Western Conference, the Goats will be in desperate need of points against Guillermo Barros Schelotto & Co. this weekend. The Crew, at the opposite end of the spectrum from their SoCal rivals, boast an eight-point margin atop their conference and have lost just three times in 17 games.
The Goats have been up to their eyeballs in matches this July with the US Open Cup, SuperLiga 2010 and MLS league play all crashing down on their heads. Saturday’s match will be Chivas USA’s eighth in 28 days, which brings the team to a staggering average of a game every 3.5 days over the course of the last four weeks. Much of their success against Columbus will hinge on their ability to recover during this past week – their first without a midweek game since the World Cup break.
Chivas USA will also need strong performances from their three newcomers: Paulo Nagamura, Giancarlo Maldonado and Rodolfo Espinoza. The trio adds some veteran experience to a young Red-and-White squad, but the players are still struggling to find their fitness and chemistry with the team.
Also, Goats new midfielder Sal Zizzo is expected to be able to make his debut.
Columbus’ visit to The Home Depot Center will be just the team’s second road trip in nine games. The Crew will need to recover from the long trip to Southern California quickly if they are going to improve on their mediocre 2-4-1 away record.
Columbus will also hope for quick turnarounds from team leaders Chad Marshall and Schelotto, both who participated in the 2010 MLS All-Star game on Wednesday. Each was included in the starting XI for the match, with Schelotto playing 45 minutes and Marshall playing 63, so fatigue could be a factor for the veterans.
Heroes & Villains
Giancarlo Maldonado vs. Chad Marshall -- Maldonado, Chivas USA’s new goalscorer, notched his first career MLS assist last Saturday against Real Salt Lake and will be looking to add a goal to his stats this weekend. Marshall is no slouch, however, and will pose a formidable obstacle for the Venezuelan. All eyes will be on this battle, as it’s likely to determine how fluidly the Goats’ offense is able to function.
Stat that makes you go "Hm..."
Chivas USA have lost to Columbus just once at The Home Depot Center since the Goats joined the league in 2005. The defeat? A 3-0 drubbing in the first game the two sides ever played against each other.