Carlos Bocanegra set for MLS re-introduction in big night for Chivas USA

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Former United States national team captain Carlos Bocanegra, his international player certificate now in hand, is set to debut tonight for Chivas USA.

The Goats meet Toronto FC at the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center, the LA Galaxy’s stadium on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus) in a match that is big for several reasons around Chivas USA.

Not only is Bocanegra (pictured) being reintroduced to the league that helped him establish a long, fruitful career in European soccer, highly regarded Mexican striker prospect Erick “Cubo” Torres is also set for a Chivas USA debut. Torres, 20, formerly captained the Chivas de Guadalajara’s under-17 team and made his first team debut back in November or 2010.

So, the night is mostly about these bookend Chivas USA debutantes – “bookend” in terms of age, that is, 14 years apart. Kickoff from Carson, Calif., is set for 10:30 p.m. ET. (The official MLS match preview is here.)

Bocanegra will play in his first MLS match since late in the 2003 season, after which he earned a second consecutive MLS Defender of the Year award, a resume plum that helped get the California native noticed by Fulham.

Since leaving MLS, “Boca” has played professionally in England, Scotland, Spain and France, and he was a member of United States World Cup rosters in 2006 and 2010.

(MORE: Will Bocanegra’s move to MLS get him back into U.S. team?)

There’s one more reason to be interested in this one. Chivas has looked better lately, a little more defensively disciplined, under new manager Jose Luis Real. It paid off in recent road draws at Dallas and Toronto, and nearly so again in last week’s controversial – well, actually lets go with “just plain wrong” – loss to Philadelphia. Read about that one here, if you like.

Chivas USA is winless in 14 matches, having failed to taste victory in April, May, June or as yet in July. One more loss or draw will match the club record. So, a home contest against Toronto FC, another of the league’s poorest clubs, and one that just lost its top defender, represents about the best opportunity out there to get things going in a better direction.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)