Thursday, September 4

Chivas USA arrives in Toronto

Chivas USA arrived in Toronto on Thursday evening ahead of Saturday’s matchup against Toronto FC. Taking a morning flight out of Los Angeles International Airport, the Red-and-White landed in Toronto around 5:00 p.m. local time, and will train tomorrow at BMO Field, where Saturday’s game takes place.

“It’s a great city,” said Assistant Coach Mike Matkovich when the team arrived at the Toronto airport. Matkovich spent the 2007 season as an assistant coach for Toronto FC, and is returning to the city for the first time as a Chivas USA coach.

“It’s a city where people live downtown, and you’re right on the lake, and there’s a lot to do, so it’s a real neat city,” Matkovich said.

Two of Matkovich’s early charges at Toronto FC were Paulo Nagamura and Alecko Eskandarian, who both started the 2007 season before being traded. Eskandarian played four games for Toronto at the start of the season before joining Real Salt Lake (and then moving to Chivas USA before the 2008 campaign), while Nagamura played seven matches before a trade brought him to the Red-and-White.

In fact, the first match in Toronto FC history was at The Home Depot Center, when the Canadian expansion side fell 2-0 to Chivas USA on April 7, 2007.

“I actually had a great chance to score [in that game],” said Eskandarian. “Brad [Guzan] made a great save and we ended up losing. We actually played really well.”

Both Eskandarian and Nagamura were stopped by ex-Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, now of Aston Villa in the English Premier League; Nagamura hit a 20-yard blast in the 16th minute, while Eskandarian’s 12-yard shot minutes later was parried out for a corner kick.

Though both players spent only a short time playing for Toronto FC, both have fond memories of the city and the Toronto fans.

“I’ve got a lot of love for Toronto,” says the 26-year-old striker. “I had a lot of good times out here. It’s special to see the fans, because they treated me so great when I was out here.”

“I love the city,” Nagamura agrees. “I like to play against Toronto. We all know that [the fans] are very passionate about their team, and it adds incentive to play against them.”

Despite their fond feelings for the city of Toronto, both players are focused on the task at hand.

“Some of my old teammates are still on the team, and it’s always fun to play against them,” said Eskandarian. “But at the end of the day we’re here to get a job done.”

“I’m happy to be here, and to play against Toronto again,” said Nagamura. “It’s an important game for us.”

Paulo Nagamura and Jesse Marsch wait for their bags at the airport upon the team's arrival in Toronto.