CHIVAS USA: Tough choices vs. LMU

CARSON -- Robin Fraser has roster decisions to make in the next week, and they're not getting easier. The performance of three trialists in Chivas USA's preseason game Friday afternoon certainly gives the Goats' coach and his staff something to think about.

Colombian attacking midfielder Jose Manuel Najera and Brazilian winger Alan Souza were as impressive as hoped for in their first game action for Chivas in a 4-0 romp over Loyola Marymount University on a training field outside Home Depot Center's main stadium. Matt Dallman's showing at left back was just as good -- and far more unexpected.

Dallman, who is from Portland, Ore., started training with Chivas about two weeks ago -- not on trial, just to get fit. He has spent the past 4½ years in Europe, and he came to Carson after childhood friend Heath Pearce vouched for him.

“He talked to the coaches, asked if I could train with them for a little bit, and they've been great,” said Dallman, who played with Pearce in club ball, at the University of Portland, and in six months at Danish club Nordsjaelland before spending four years in Germany, with Arminia Bielefeld and Sportsfreunde Ziegen.

Dallman, 26, teamed with Souza on the left flank Friday to terrorize LMU's defense, setting up the second of two goals by rookie Casey Townsend with a fine run to the end line. He was solid defensively and looked very much at home in a 90-minute outing.

“We had the opportunity to look at him, and he's come in, and I think he did well today,” Fraser said.

His chances of making this roster? No telling.

“I haven't really heard much [about prospects],” Dallman said. “It was more of they said I could come in and train. I don't think it was a very official trial. It was just me kind of getting fit again. I just moved back from Europe about a month ago, so I'm tring to find a club here between [MLS and second-division North American Soccer League], just kind of decide what I want to do.

“I didn't come in with expectations. It was just great that they let me train.”

Najera demonstrated a lot of class atop the midfield triangle in the 4-2-3-1 formation, and Souza was sensational attacking from the wing, scoring a fine goal as Chivas took a two-goal lead after 19 minutes, winning a penalty kick early in the second half and creating several other very dangerous opportunities.

“Souza does a good job of running at guys, beating guys ...,” Fraser said. “Certainly he's a tough guy to deal with in one-on-one situations. He's got good quickness, good change of pace. He makes himself a very tricky character.”

Najera, Fraser said, is “a very intelligent attacking midfielder. Always has pretty good ideas, always has his ideas picked out before he receives the ball. Rarely gets stuck with the ball.”

Chivas must submit on March 1 a roster of no more than 30 players, with the first 18 or 20 fitting under the $2.81 million salary cap.

GOAL SCORER: Townsend, the first-round draft pick from the University of Maryland, has scored in each of his last three appearances, four goals in all. He knocked home a rebound in the 10th minute and finished Dallman's feed in the 40th.

“Every time he steps on the field,” Fraser said, “he puts himself in dangerous situations, and he converts.”

That's what he's supposed to do, and he knows it. Now that he's “getting my soccer legs back” after a hamstring injury kept him off the field the first couple weeks of preseason, he's proving it.

“I've always been a goal scorer,” Townsend said. “I don't really know anything else. I mean, if I'm not scoring goals, I'm probably not really playing that well. They brought me in to score goals, and the confidence will come with the goals. Obviously, scoring however many goals I've scored so far is nice, but it's just the preseason. You've got to score them against the big boys in the regular season, so we'll see how that goes.”

HIGHLIGHTS: New signing Cesar Romero was a handful on the right flank, and he converted the penalty kick Souza won in the 48th. ... Alejandro Moreno, settling into a holding midfielder job, effectively quarterbacked the side. ... LMU rarely troubled the backline, with second-choice center backs Rauwshan McKenzie and David Junior Lopes going the full 90. ... Assistant coach Greg Vanney made his second appearance of the preseason, playing the final 24 minutes as a holding midfielder.

WORTH NOTING: Chivas is expected to make roster cuts before heading Sunday to Portland, Ore., for the Timbers' tournament. One player apparently not in the mix, but still in camp, is three-year pool goalkeeper Kevin Guppy, a former Cal State Northridge star from Chino Hills. Fraser said Tim Melia more or less captured the No. 2 goalkeeper job when Guppy left for a trial with Seattle that was canceled soon after he arrived. Cal Poly's Patrick McLain and UCLA's Brian Rowe are battling for the No. 3 job. ... Karo Okiomah's trial lasted just a day. He was released from camp after suffering an ankle injury Monday in his first training session, but Fraser said he would keep tabs on the forward. ... The first of the Goats' three games in Portland is Monday against Swedish club AIK. ... Chivas' parent club, Guadalajara, announced Thursday that Dutch great Johan Cruyff, who spent a season with the L.A. Aztecs in the old NASL, has joined as an adviser.


Home Depot Center University Field 2 (Carson)

Chivas USA 4, Loyola Marymount University 0

C -- Casey Townsend 10

C -- Alan Souza (Alejandro Moreno) 19

C -- Casey Townsend (Matt Dallman) 40

C -- Cesar Romero pen. 49

Chivas USA: Patrick McLain (Kevin Rowe, 46); Mario Ledesma, Rauwshan McKenzie, David Junior Lopes, Matt Dallman; Alejandro Moreno, Ben Zemanski (Marco Delgado, 69); Cesar Romero (Chris Cortez, 52), Jose Manuel Najera (Greg Vanney, 69), Alan Souza; Casey Townsend (Eric Gonzalez, 70).

Loyola Marymount: Vince Paldino; Bryce Bacic (Christian Alvarado, 29; Bryce Bacic, 74), Ryan Felix (David Ponce, 46; Christian Alvarado, 88), Mitch Boland, John LaCouture (Connor Hunsicker, 56; Ryan Felix, 77); Sean Sears, Connor Hunsicker (Aaron Garfinkel, 39; John McFarlin, 56; Mason McDowell, 91+); David Flores (Mason McDowell, 37; Trent Clifton, 63); Trent Clifton (Juan De Rada, 29; David Flores, 68); John McFarlin (Cameron Krumpe, 37); Alex Greenman, 88); David Ponce (Eric Brunter, 39).

Yellow cards: None.

Referee: Magic Berendji. Att.: c. 40.


Record: 3-5-0; vs, MLS: 1-3-0

Jan. 27 vs. Ventura County Fusion (PDL), 60 mins.: L, 0-1

Feb. 3 vs. FC Hasental (NPSL): W, 5-0 (Lahoud 22, Angel pen. 24, Smith 40, Cortez 50, Romero 89)

Feb. 7 vs. Colorado Rapids: L, 0-1

Feb. 11 vs. Chicago Fire: L, 0-1

Feb. 14 vs. Montreal Impact, 60 mins.: W, 1-0 (Townsend 2)

Feb. 16 vs. Galaxy: L, 2-3 (Lahoud 53, Romero 77)

Feb. 22 vs. Club Tijuana (Mexico): L, 2-5 (Lahoud 36, Townsend 88)

Feb. 24 vs. Loyola Marymount: W, 4-0 (Townsend 10, 40, Souza 19, Romero pen. 49)

Remaining games

Feb. 27 vs. AIK (Sweden) at Portland, Ore.

March 1 at Portland Timbers

March 4 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at Portland, Ore.