Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
The Galaxy isn't the only soccer club in Los Angeles without a pair of its largest contributors due to the World Cup. In fact, the team right across the hall at Home Depot Center has similar problems.
Chivas USA will play its first match on Saturday without co-captains Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan, who are both currently battling for spots on Bob Bradley's World Cup roster. If the players both make the United States World Cup squad, Chivas USA will be without players for at least five matches. The Rojiblancos will face an immediate test in their first match without the pair as they take on defending MLS champions Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
"We knew that we would be without Jonny and Sacha for a time, so its up to the guys that we are going to be calling on to step up and those who have performed to continue to perform," said head coach Martin Vasquez. "Hopefully it doesn't take us a game or two to get used to having them out of the line up."
Without the offensive force of Sacha Kljestan, the emphasis falls to midfielder Jesus Padilla to pick up the slack for the Rojiblancos. Since being brought into the club last year, he has struggled to make the impact that was expected of him when he was brought in from Chivas de Guadalajara.
Padilla has shown signs of improvement this year and currently leads Chivas USA in goals scored this season with three, but more is expected of him if the Rojiblancos are going to prosper.
"I need to just do my job well, if I get chances to score then I have to score and continue to work for the team," said Padilla. "This is a big opportunity for us to show what we got."
In addition to Padilla, the club will also need a larger contribution from Salvadoran International Osael Romero. The midfielder has struggled to come to terms with the physicality of MLS and even picked up an injury that kept him out of the line up for several weeks. After finally returning to the bench last weekend against Columbus, Romero will be expected to help the Rojiblancos prosper while Kljestan and Bornstein chase their World Cup dreams.
On the defensive side of the ball, Martin Vasquez faces an even stiffer test replacing the steady presence of Jonathan Bornstein. A host of players are in the mix for time on the field and one such option is Jorge Flores. The United States U-20 International held the left back spot early in the season when Bornstein was moved to center back, but struggled to hold down the position. After several weeks of additional seasoning, Flores is eager to return to the field.
"I think that I'm ready to take the opportunity, I had some bad moments in the beginning of the season, but I feel that I'm getting my confidence back and I'm ready for this chance," said Flores. "Martin has told me that he has the confidence in me, but I know that I have to keep working to hold the position."
For Chivas USA to prosper without its leaders, the club will need buckle down to combat the inconstancy that has plagued the club throughout the season. Despite having Kljestan and Bornstein gone, the Rojiblancos are eager to prove that they are not a two man team.
"Sacha and Jonny are important to us, but we need eleven leaders on the field not just two," said defender Mariano Trujillo. "A player can make the difference, but the team is the most important thing so we must play as a team so that we can win."
GALINDO RETURNS TO TRAINING
The Rojiblancos got an added boost this week when forward Maykel Galindo returned to training after an ankle injury. The forward will be evaluated to determine if he is healthy enough to make the squad on Saturday.