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April 19, 2014 at 3:11 AM

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, preview and prediction

Sounders FC (3-2-1) at Chivas USA (1-2-3)
Saturday, April 19, 7:30 p.m., StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.
Local TV/radio: JOEtv (KZJO-Ch. 22/Cable 10), KIRO 97.3 FM
Spanish TV/radio: THIS-TV (KOMO2), ESPN Deportes 1490 AM
Referee: Ismail Elfath

KEY CHIVAS USA PLAYERS

F Erick Torres — The man they call “El Cubo” has been on a scoring tear since joining the league on loan from Mexico’s Chivas de Guadalajara. He has 12 goals and an assist in 21 games in MLS. This season he has five goals (second most in the league behind Clint Dempsey’s six) in just five games. The 21 year old has scored in a variety of ways and will quickly punish a leaky Sounders defense if given the chance.

D Carlos Bocanegra — The former U.S. national team captain is also entering his first full season back in the league after being a midseason addition in 2013. He’ll be without his usual partner in the back with the on-loan Eriq Zavaleta ineligible to play against his parent club. If Chivas is going to get anything out of this game, it will need to limit Seattle’s potent attack, meaning Bocanegra will have to be at his best.

GK Dan Kennedy — At a talent disadvantage? Well, a stellar performance from a goalkeeper can even things out a little bit. This 31 year old has been in the top half of the league’s crop for quite a while, particularly with not always the best teams in front of him. Looking at basic goalkeeper stats and you might not notice anything special, but he’s passed the eye test more than a few times (need recent evidence? watch tape of the New York game).

KEY MATCHUPS

Mauro Rosales vs. Leo Gonzalez — These veterans should know each other well from three seasons shared in Seattle. Rosales has continued his productive ways with the Goats, and his three assists are tied for second in the league. Ex-teammates expect to see a motivated Rosales and current teammates claim to see him at a different level than last year. Gonzalez will be looking to get settled in making his third-straight start in a return from offseason groin surgery.

Leandro Barrera vs. DeAndre Yedlin — Chivas has made some definite improvements to the roster in the offseason, and Seattle coach Sigi Schmid has made a point of singling out the 23-year-old Argentine on loan from Argentinos Juniors. He has two assists from his play out on the left flank. Yedlin didn’t have the best game in Dallas, particularly conceding a penalty kick and also a few times tracking Fabian Castillo, so you can be sure he’ll be determined to show well.

Improved Chivas vs. Seattle’s dominance — The Sounders had lots of praise for Chivas this week and the franchise looks to be moving in the right direction under league ownership (for now), a new coach in Wilmer Cabrera, a new president in Nelson Rodriguez and a better, deeper roster. That said, Seattle is on a 9-0-4 run head-to-head in all competitions, including six straight wins. Chivas USA hasn’t won since June of 2009. Yikes.

PREDICTION

Most of the MLSsoccer.com editors have sided with the Sounders in their picks, and I’m right there with them.

I’m not sure I see the Chivas defense containing the Seattle attack, which has been fueled by a tremendous run by Dempsey. The 11 goals allowed by the Goats are tied for most in the league.

The visitors will get a boost if both Brad Evans (calf) and Andy Rose (hamstring) are available, and, truthfully, I think one has the potential to get ugly.

Sounders FC 3, Chivas USA 1

SEA — Obafemi Martins (Clint Dempsey) 22′
SEA — Clint Dempsey (pk) 31′
CHV — Carlos Alvarez (Agustin Pelletieri) 84′
SEA — Lamar Neagle (Osvaldo Alonso) 89′

*     *     *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?

| More in Preview and prediction, Sounders FC

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