April 21, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Chivas USA (from MLSnet.com)

Chivas ready to cope with BMO noise
Red-and-White look to maintain all-time unbeaten mark against Toronto FC
04/21/2009 04:45 PM
By Jeffrey King / MLSnet.com Staff

CARSON, Calif. -- After knocking off Western Conference foe Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night, Chivas USA heads to Canada to take on Toronto FC for their second game in five days. The Red-and-White will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak against a Toronto side that hasn't won since March 21, the first game of the season.

While Chivas USA maintain a 4-0-0 lifetime record against Toronto, Preki's men are wary of the trip to BMO Field.

"Their fans are the epitome of a 12th man," said striker Alecko Eskandarian, who played six games with Toronto in 2007. "Their team feeds off those fans. We're going to have to set the tone and not let their energy bother us."

BMO Field is a notoriously difficult place to play. Toronto has only lost three of its last 18 home games.

"They're a good team," said Chivas USA head coach Preki. "And it's a tough environment to go and play. But we've seen it before and we still have a good group that's ready for this type of game."

Helping to relieve the stress of the midweek road trip will be the return of Paulo Nagamura. The Brazilian midfielder was unavailable for Saturday's game with Seattle through suspension after he was shown two yellow cards against Los Angeles.

"Paulo's a very important part of our team," said Preki. "We missed him on Saturday, but we still managed to get a result in a good performance. It's nice to have him back for Wednesday."

Also available is Alecko Eskandarian, who got his first start of the season against Seattle. The striker appears to have overcome a left hip strain and is quickly getting back into match shape.

"It was great to be back on the field contributing," said Eskandarian of Saturday's match. "I wasn't sure how long I'd play or how long I'd last, but it definitely felt good to be out there and get the win in probably the toughest game we've had to play so far this season."

Toronto will have the difficult task of facing a Chivas USA defense that has only allowed two goals in five games. That mark makes them the top defensive team in the league.

"Right now, we've been pretty solid," said defender Carey Talley. "It's been all 11 of us. The pressure's been good up top, it's been great when the ball's in the midfield, and then as a unit, the back four has stuck together and been tough to play through.

"We've given up a couple chances here and there but Zach has come up big and made some very good saves for us. Let's hope we keep it at two goals against us after Wednesday night. Shavar [Thomas] and I talked about it and if nothing else, we don't let them score."

The Red-and-White have also been getting outstanding play from many of its new faces, a fact which makes playing on the road without much rest a little easier.

"The one thing that's been nice is that a lot of newer guys who have gotten opportunities have done really well for themselves," said team captain Jesse Marsch. "It provides depth for our team, and when we need to call on our depth late in games, guys will be ready because they've shown well when they started."

While they've enjoyed great success so far in 2009, Chivas USA are keeping level heads before Wednesday night's match.

"We still need to have the same mentality and same approach to every game," said Preki. "We can't think that we're the best team in the league. We have to feel good about ourselves, but we need to keep our feet on the ground and keep working and keep believing. Hopefully good things will keep happening to us."

Jeffrey King is a contributor to MLSnet.com.

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