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It's an all-in-the-family matchup

Chivas USA and its parent club, Chivas de Guadalajara, are facing each other for the first time.

September 23, 2009|GRAHAME L. JONES

History with an asterisk will be made at the Rose Bowl tonight.

At 8 p.m., Chivas USA will play Chivas de Guadalajara in a friendly game between the 5-year-old Major League Soccer team and its 103-year-old Mexican league parent club.

It will be the first time the teams have played each other, which is where the asterisk comes in.

The "first" game becomes historic only when and if Chivas USA sticks around half as long as Chivas de Guadalajara, which was founded in 1906, and is half as successful as the Mexican team, an 11-time league champion.

If that happens, fans in the future can refer to the game in 2009 when Chivas USA featured the likes of the legendary Claudio Suarez and Chivas de Guadalajara had such Mexican internationals as Ramon Morales, Aaron Galindo, Jonny Magallon and Omar Bravo.

But if that doesn't happen and Chivas USA sometime down the road goes the way of the dodo, the matchup means little.

Not that such thoughts were occupying Chivas USA's players on Tuesday morning. To a man, they said they were looking forward to the game, when it will be goat versus goat.

"It's something special to play against your ex-team," said Jesus Padilla, a 22-year-old midfielder who joined Chivas de Guadalajara at age 14 and was traded to Chivas USA last month. "I was in Mexico for eight years with that team, so it's something special.

"We're taking it seriously. Every game is important for us."

Defender Mariano Trujillo, 32, spent 13 seasons in the Mexican league with such clubs as Pumas UNAM, Santos Laguna, Morelia and Atlante and knows well what it is like to play Chivas de Guadalajara.

"It's always a pleasure to play an international match," he said. "I played against them a lot of times in Mexico. It was always a special feeling to play against them. I'm taking it in the same way. I'm just going to go out and do my best and try to win."

The game comes at an inconvenient time for Chivas USA Coach Preki, whose team is fighting for a playoff spot in MLS and has only six games left to secure it.

Still, Preki put on a brave face.

"It should be a good, exciting game for the fans," he said. "Obviously, they're a huge team and a well-followed team. I'm sure the fans will be on their side. We'll be an away team again, but that's nothing different for us."

Preki plans to take advantage of the friendly to give 22 players some game time "to see how different players are doing and then we'll make the decision on who is going to play Saturday."

Chivas USA plays host to the last-place New York Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, knowing that three points for a victory will greatly enhance its playoff prospects.

"I don't expect anybody to play the full 90 minutes, not even 60," Preki said of tonight's game. "We're just hoping to get out of this game without any further injuries."

As far as defender Jonathan Bornstein is concerned, the game has some value.

"It's a friendly game where you can still hone your skills and prepare for what's coming up on Saturday," the U.S. international said. "It's a good thing for the fans to see both Chivas teams in a clash at the Rose Bowl.

"It'll be very interesting to see what happens."

Possibly even historic, if you take the long view.

--

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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