Sounders versus Chivas USA preview
With the United States national team facing Hungary in a World Cup qualifier, Chivas USA will be without two important players Saturday night.
Chivas, though, does not expect any less of an effort at the Home Depot Center when it meets Seattle Sounders FC.
Chivas USA (7-2-3), which leads the Western Conference by six points over Houston and seven over Seattle, suffered its first defeat since April 22 with a 3-2 loss against Chicago on May 28. Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored on a penalty kick in the 25th minute then fired another one past Zach Thornton in stoppage time as Chivas was handed its first home loss (5-1-1).
"This is incredible," coach Preki Radosavljevic said. "In our own house we get called for two penalty kicks."
Chivas will be trying to defeat Seattle (4-2-5) at the Home Depot Center for the second time this season, but will be without midfielder Sacha Kljestan and defender Jonathan Bornstein, who will be playing for the U.S.
"We have a group of players that works for each other every day," Preki said. "It doesn't matter who is on the field -- we're going to play the same way and the team's commitment is going to be the same. That's been the case all season and hopefully it continues."
Bojan Stepanovic could play in Kljestan's position, while Jim Curtin, Claudio Suarez or Jorge Flores are options to fill in on the back line.
"Missing Bornstein, who I think has probably been our MVP so far this year, is a big deal," Curtin said. "But whoever steps in will be able to do the job. We all know each other, so the change should be pretty smooth."
Chivas will also be without midfielder Jesse Marsch, who will serve a one-game suspension for picking up two yellow cards against the Fire.
Paulo Nagamura scored his career-high fourth goal in the loss to Chicago. He faces the Sounders for the first time after being suspended for Chivas' 2-0 win over Seattle on April 18.
Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller also missed that match with a red-card suspension. Keller leads MLS with a 0.64 goals-against average, but his steady play wasn't enough for the Sounders to pick up the win last Saturday in a 1-all draw with Columbus. Seattle has tied its last five matches, but it has missed numerous opportunities to notch its first win since defeating San Jose 2-0 on April 25.
"We have to be more focused when the ball is out of play," Keller told the Sounders' official Web site. "If teams play quick on us and we're not ready, there's no excuse for that."
Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg returned from a two-game absence due to migraine headaches and assisted on Nate Jaqua's third goal of the season. Ljungberg, though, missed a penalty kick in the 32nd minute as his shot went wide left.
"I hit it quite hard and it just curled around the corner," Ljungberg said. "It happens sometimes."
Sounders defender Tyrone Marshall will serve a one-game suspension for picking up a red card last weekend.
Chivas USA and Seattle next play Sept. 19 at Qwest Field.