Chivas USA to host Mendoza-less Crew
Andres Mendoza helped lead the Columbus Crew to their first victory of the season but will miss his team's next attempt to earn a win.
With their forward sidelined by an injury, the Crew will try to record their first victory at Chivas USA in six years on Saturday night.
Mendoza converted a penalty kick in the second half, and Eddie Gaven added a late goal as Columbus recorded a 2-0 victory over defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas on April 1.
Mendoza, though, is out for this week's trip to the West Coast with a strained groin. His absence means that coach Robert Warzycha will have to decide whether to continue with his single striker formation or switch back to the 4-4-2 he used in a season-opening loss at D.C. United.
If Warzycha decides to keep his current formation, he might use Jeff Cunningham or Emilio Renteria as his lone striker. Cunningham enters this game needing one goal to tie Jamie Moreno's MLS record of 133.
Without Mendoza, the Crew (1-1-1) might need to lean on a defense that's posted consecutive shutouts. William Hesmer, who's been in net for both of those games, didn't have much luck stopping Chivas during last season's trip to the Home Depot Center.
The home team scored a pair of goals in the first half en route to a 3-1 victory. One of those came from Justin Braun, who had a team-best nine goals in 2010 but has yet to score this season.
"They were unbelievable. They played really, really good," Hesmer told the league's website. "Their season didn't reflect it but against us they were on top of their game."
The only time Columbus won a road game in the series, Chivas coach Robin Fraser was wearing the Crew's black and gold.
A former defender with Columbus, Fraser is in his first year with his team and still searching for his first MLS victory.
Venezuelan forward Alejandro Moreno made an immediate contribution last week in his return from international duty but Chivas (0-2-1) couldn't build on his early goal in a 1-all draw at Toronto FC.
Fraser, though, thinks his team will ultimately benefit from Moreno's presence.
"Everyone in the attacking end is better when Alejandro is there," he said. "He helps us in terms of making decisions and helps them in terms of where they need to be and what they need to be doing. He's a natural leader, who has played in a lot of situations."
Fraser, though, is not expected to have veteran defender Jimmy Conrad in the lineup for the second straight week. Conrad is still recovering from a mild concussion, but midfielders Paulo Nagamura (strained calf) and Simon Elliott (sprained knee) might be available.
"I'm very close to being back on the field," Nagamura told the team's website. "It's tough to be on the sideline, but we need to worry about fitness first before I get back on the field."
Elliott played for Columbus during its 3-0 victory over an expansion Chivas USA in 2005. The Crew have been outscored 11-3 in their five straight road losses in the series.