CHIVAS USA: Goats release Cortez

CARSON -- Chivas USA is heading to Portland a little lighter. The club Saturday released forward Chris Cortez and left two trialists at home when it departed Sunday for the final phase of preseason.

Cortez, 23, lost his battle for a roster spot, dropping further down the depth chart with the additions of first-round draft choice Casey Townsend and just-signed Cesar Romero. The 6-foot-4 striker from Mission Viejo joined the Goats during preseason last year and made nine Major League Soccer appearances, with one start.

“We had a lot of high hopes for Chris when he came in,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles on Sunday morning. “He's a big, strong man who hits the ball extremely hard. We certainly expected him to develop quite a bit, and while he's come along, probably not as quickly as we would have needed him to.

“He definitely has qualities that will make him a big pro, for sure. It's a matter of time -- we have to make decisions as we get close to the season here, and some of the other forwards have proven to be more dangerous on a daily basis.”

Cortez made appearances in six of eight preseason games, all off the bench, and he scored in the victory over Thousand Oaks-based minor-leaguers FC Hasental. The former Cal star played in all 10 MLS Reserve League games last year, scoring five goals.

Fraser must submit by Thursday a roster of as many as 30 players, with the first 18 to 20 counting against the league $2.81 million salary cap. Some decisions likely won't be made until after that date, with trialists fighting for open spots or the club making further roster moves to accommodate additional signings.

The season begins March 11 against Houston at Home Depot Center; the roster freeze date and trade deadline don't arrive until Sept. 15.

Fraser left at home defender Mario Ledesma, from Woodland Hills, and Mexican midfielder Pablo Sandoval, who have been in camp since preseason began in mid-January. The coach said both had a chance to continue with the club when it returns after a week in Portland.

Chivas has three games in Portland: Monday against Swedish club AIK, Thursday against the Timbers and next Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes.

“The game the other night [against Club Tijuana at the University of San Diego] was our first real game with a crowd and an angry opponent, and we have 34 of those [in league play] coming up for real,” Fraser said. “So [the tournament is] just another opportunity to put ourselves in another very competitive environment and figure out way to emerge successfully out of those.”

WORTH NOTING: Defender Scott Gordon has joined camp as a trialist. Gordon, 23, is a 6-foot-4 right back and center back who played last year for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the second-tier North American Soccer League and was in FC Dallas' camp earlier this preseason. He played a season at Mercer University, then transferred to NCAA Division II power Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., his hometown. ... AIK, from northern Stockholm suburb Solna, has won 11 Swedish titles in the past 113 years, the most recent in 2009. The club's roster includes Canadian goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos and Costa Rican forward Celso Borges. ... Only the Portland tournament games involving the Timbers will be streamed online.

ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...

  • Former Galaxy defender Chris Albright, 33, signed with Philadelphia, his hometown team, after spending the past two seasons with New York. The Union also extended defender Sheanon Williams' contract and signed SuperDraft picks Greg Jordan and Raymond Gaddis, supplemental draft picks Krystian Witkowski and Antoine Hoppenot, and goalkeeper Chase Harrison.

  • Chicago released from camp its former midfielder/defender Ivan Guerrero, 34. Guerrero spent the past 2½ years with Motagua in his native Honduras after 4½ seasons in MLS with Chicago, San Jose, D.C. United and Colorado.

  • Oft-injured midfielder John Thorrington, from Palos Verdes, exited Vancouver's 3-0 romp over Montreal at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Friday in Orlando, Fla., with a groin strain.

  • Winger Brad Davis, who suffered a torn quadriceps muscle during the playoffs, and forward Calen Carr, who underwent offseason knee surgery, have been cleared to play for Houston, who opened the Disney Classic with a 0-0 draw vs. Sporting Kansas City.