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Fire-Chivas USA Preview
By TOM CASTRO
(AP) -- After an outstanding start defensively this season, Chivas USA nearly matched its season total for goals allowed in its last game. That may not bode well as it faces a Chicago Fire team that has had little trouble scoring in the teams' recent matchups.
Chivas looks to bounce back from the rough defensive effort and avoid a third straight shutout loss when it hosts the Fire on Friday night.
Chivas (3-5-0) allowed five goals through its first seven games and never more than one in a match going into Saturday's meeting with Colorado. That stingy play was suddenly absent, however, as the Rapids won 4-0 after scoring three times in the final eight minutes.
"The score is maybe not indicative of the entire game," Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. "But at the end of the day the score is what is going to be remembered."
The last time the club had given up that many goals in a game was Oct. 23, 2010 - a 4-1 loss to Chicago. Chivas allowed 15 shots Saturday, eight of which were on goal.
Despite the lopsided final result, Chivas controlled play in a scoreless first half and applied plenty of offensive pressure, earning two free kicks, but couldn't snap a goal drought that has reached 246 minutes.
The club was shut out for the fifth time this season and has scored a league-low four goals. Chivas has lost two in a row after winning three of four.
"We had moments that were good in the first half," Fraser said. "We have to execute and finish our opportunities when we get them."
Fraser's team may get some help in that cause. Veteran attacker Alejandro Moreno and midfielder Pete Vagenas have been removed from the injury list and are expected to be available Friday. Moreno has one of Chivas' four goals in 2012.
The Fire have been very successful at finishing opportunities against Chivas, starting with that 2010 victory. Chicago has scored eight goals in going 2-0-1 in the last three meetings, taking the most recent one 3-2 on Sept. 17 on Dominic Oduro's winning goal in the 85th minute.
Oduro leads Chicago (2-2-2) with three goals, but he didn't record one Saturday as the inconsistent Fire fell 2-1 to Seattle. Jalil Anibaba's point-blank shot was stopped in the sixth minute of extra time, and Marco Pappa had a goal waved off in the 63rd minute on an offsides call.
Chicago's frustration appeared to boil over during a shoving match after the final whistle, and it will cost the Fire on Friday. Anibaba and coach Frank Klopas received one-game suspensions for their roles in the scuffle, with Klopas getting banned for his exchange with referee Michael Kennedy.
"That's the decision, and there's not much I can do about it now," Anibaba told MLS' official website.
Assistants Leo Percovich and Mike Matkovich will take over for Klopas on Friday, while rookie center back Austin Berry will start in Anibaba's place.
The Fire have gone 2-0-1 in the last three road games in this series.
Updated May 3, 2012