Pareja: Transformed Chivas USA will be difficult to play against

Coach not surprised by Chivas USA's strong start as they meet for first time on Saturday

Coach Oscar Pareja

Photo Credit: 
Bart Young / Colorado Rapids

Chivas USA may have surprised many through five matches this season, but not Colorado Rapids coach Oscar Pareja.

After ending the 2012 season with a 14-game winless streak, Chivas USA replaced coach Robin Fraser with Mexican coach Jose Luis 'El Chelis' Sanchez Sola in January. Through five matches Sola has his team playing entertaining - and winning - soccer, posting a 3-1-1 record and outscoring opponents 10-7.

"(Chivas USA) is a team that has been transformed in its mentality," Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said of Saturday's opponent. "It seems now that everyone is under the same concepts and ideas that their coach has implemented. I can see a team that is pushing towards the same way. That's difficult to play against."

Sola made immediate changes to the roster upon taking charge, letting go of veterans like Nick LaBrocca (back to Colorado), Danny Califf, James Riley, Shalrie Joseph, Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno, Ryan Smith, and Peter Vagenas, among others. He then brought in several players that have made the quick transition to MLS, including Mexican midfielder Edgar Mejia and defenders Mario de Luna and Joaquin Velazquez, who have each started all five matches along with returning goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

"I see a team that is fiesty, that is intense, and they have people up front that can hurt," Pareja said. "They're a good team, and it's not a surprise for me. We faced them in the preseason and that was a very difficult game."

Chivas defeated the Rapids, 3-0, in a preseason match in Las Vegas in February. 

The Rapids are 11-5-6 all-time against Chivas USA, including 7-4-0 at The Home Depot Center. Colorado has not lost to Chivas USA since March 21, 2009, posting a 6-0-2 record during the streak.

Saturday's match from Carson, Calif. kicks off at 8:30 p.m. MT (live on Altitude2).