EricAlexander vs Chivas USA 2011
Craig Mitchelldyer

Preseason Tournament: Chivas USA looking for stability, consistency

The Portland Timbers resume their 2012 preseason tournament slate with the second of three games during the round-robin style tournament at JELD-WEN Field tonight against Chivas USA at 7:30 p.m. AIK and San Jose play at 5 p.m. in the run-up to the Timbers match with Chivas USA.

JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
7:30 p.m. (PT)

TICKETS: Tickets for the preseason tournament are available, which start at $10 per doubleheader session, at the JELD-WEN Field box office and area Ticketmaster outlets, online or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
BROADCASTS: Freedom 970 AM (pre-game show starts at 7 p.m.) / Web stream
PDF: Match Day Insert

AIK outplayed Chivas USA in Monday’s early match while earning a 2-0 victory behind goals from 20-year-old Swedish midfielder/forward Viktor Lundberg and 21-year-old Togolese midfielder Atakora Lalawelé.

Lundberg and Lalawelé assisted on each other’s goals, causing problems for the Chivas USA defense. AIK’s backline, meanwhile, did well containing the Chivas USA attack as well as outmuscling the Rojiblancos in the midfield.

Timbers head coach John Spencer found many positives to take from Monday’s draw with the ‘Quakes and thought that if you look at the relative inexperience of the defensive backline, the Timbers fought off much of the San Jose pressure with quality.

“You kind of fall into that trap that you just expect to win games here and I’m a little bit guilty of that myself. There’s still an opponent out there that wants to win the game as much as you,” Spencer said of the 1-1 draw. “There were some good performances, a lot of positives to take from it. I don’t think they put us under much danger at all except when we made individual errors and that’s where their goal came from.”

The Timbers take on a Chivas USA team coming off a bumpy 2011 season that saw the Goats finish outside of the MLS Cup Playoffs field for the second straight season.

Second-year head coach Robin Fraser has been active in the offseason trying to craft a lineup that can perform well on a much-more consistent basis than the 2011 edition that finished 15th overall with a record of 8-14-12.

A full season with Colombian Juan Pablo Ángel could help create a sense of stability in the Chivas USA attack. Ángel tallied seven goals in nine appearances for the Goats following a midseason trade from the LA Galaxy last year. The addition of Ryan Smith and the potential emergence of Michael Lahoud in the midfield could supply Ángel with plenty of opportunities.

Fraser also added Ecuadorian international Oswaldo Minda from Deportivo Quito. Minda, 28, is a wildcard who could use his physicality and IQ to strengthen the midfield along with fellow Ecuadorian, 21-year-old attacking midfielder Miller Bolaños.

On Monday, AIK exposed some familiar dents in Chivas USA’s defense, a problem that plagued the team during 2011, forcing No. 1 goalkeeper Dan Kennedy into making several saves. 

The Timbers had the upper hand on Chivas USA twice in 2011 — earning a 2-0 victory in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field in March and a 1-0 home win at the end of August. Chivas USA beat the Timbers 1-0 at The Home Depot Center as Portland gave up 19 shots and Kennedy made four saves to preserve the shutout for the home side.