Friday, September 19

Salt Lake brings back memories for many Chivas USA players

Justin Braun arrives in Salt Lake Chivas USA arrived on Friday afternoon in Utah, where it will face Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in one of the Red-and-White’s most crucial games this season. With just six games left in the MLS regular season, Chivas USA (8-10-6, 30 pts) trails Real Salt Lake (8-9-7, 31 pts) by just a point in the tightly-packed Western Conference standings. The match will start at 6:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcast LIVE on KAZA Azteca 54 and the MLS Direct Kick Package; FSN West will air the game on tape-delay staring at 8:00 p.m. PT.
For players such as Alecko Eskandarian, Carey Talley and Atiba Harris it will represent the first time they return to Rice-Eccles Stadium since they last wore the Real Salt Lake uniform. It will probably be the last time they step on the Rice-Eccles turf field since the Real Salt Lake is moving to its new stadium after Saturday’s game.
“I definitely expect to get booed. There’s going to be an awesome atmosphere”, said Eskandarian, who was acquired by Chivas USA from Real Salt Lake during the offseason, as well as Harris. Defender Carey Talley joined Chivas USA in May in a trade with Real Salt Lake, where he’d played since 2006.
For Justin Braun, it’s the first time he visits his native Salt Lake City with the Red-and-White. The Chivas USA forward was playing last year with the Olympique Montreaux, a men’s league team in Utah. He was spotted by Chivas USA Head Coach Preki during a preseason tournament at The Home Depot Center and got invited to train with the team.
“I always imagined myself playing against the Real Salt Lake,” said Braun on Friday in downtown Salt Lake.
“ I was a Real Salt Lake fan when I was growing up, but now it’s all about Chivas,” added the rookie, who has three goals and 2 assists so far in the regular season.
Zotinca travels with the team Alex Zotinca at the hotel in Salt Lake
Chivas USA’s players are getting healthier little by little. Defender Alex Zotinca traveled with the team on Friday after getting right knee surgery at the beginning of the season.
“It feels kind of weird to be in the airport traveling with the team. It’s the first time traveling with the team since March. I have mixed feelings. I really wanted to do this for a long time now,” said the Romanian defender, who underwent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery.
Zotinca was injured during a preseason match against D.C. United on March 5 at Cibolo, Texas.
“This is by far the first injury that has kept me out the field the longest. I had some ankle sprains. Some torn muscles but nothing like this... At the beginning they told me that it was going to take longer than it is right now… I need to get stronger and ready to go out and play,” he added.
“The toughest thing about it was to just watch the games. We have had a tough season so far. It was hard for me because I thought that in some situations I could’ve helped.”
Zotinca has been training with the full team for the past two weeks and might even see some action Saturday or Sunday.
“I’ve never been in a team with so many injuries. It has been frustrating for the guys, for the coaches. We can never play with the same guys. Hopefully we are going to make it to the playoffs and we are going to get some new guys and maybe we can make it farther than last year.”