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MLS scores big for charity

Chivas USA rolls in third benefit game to fight cancer

Posted: March 2, 2009 1:09 a.m.
Updated: March 2, 2009 1:01 a.m.
Chivas USA scored a pair of victories on Sunday night.

The MLS Western Conference defending regular season champions routed the Ventura Country Fusion 4-0 in an exhibition game at the College of the Canyons, while helping raise money for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation.

“It’s great to have the chance to help out,” said Chivas head coach Preki. “Any time we can do something like this we are glad to do it. I wish we could do more really.”

It’s the third year the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, which gives support to children and their families facing childhood cancer, has put on the fundraiser. The game was the second time Chivas has participated in the event, and a first for Ventura, a member of the Premier Development League in the United Soccer League.

The event began with each Chivas player walking onto the field with a child from the foundation before kicking souvenir soccer balls into the stands.

“It was a great atmosphere here tonight,” said Chivas forward Chris Cortez. “It’s nice to be able to help out a cause, and it’s also good to get a chance to connect with our fans and sign some autographs.”

Jonathan Bornstein opened the scoring when he slipped a shot past Ventura keeper Trevor Stiles and into the right corner of the net in the 10th minute.

“The game was good experience,” Preki said. “It gave us a chance to play some of the new guys and see how they work with our old guys.”

After a trio of acrobatic saves from Stiles, Chivas struck again when Jesse Marsch knocked home a score off of a corner kick in the 36th minute.

“It was kind of tough out there for us because they’re already in their preseason so they are in top shape right now,” said Ventura’s Tino Nunez. “Still, this is good for us because it gives us a chance to gauge where we are right now, and a lot of guys want to play at their level someday.”

Cortez started the scoring in the second half with a 20 yard strike in the 66th minute.

“I was just thinking that I wanted to turn and shoot as quickly as possible,” Cortez said. “The goalie had a defender in front of him blocking his view so it was a tough shot for him to defend.”

Justin Braun notched the final tally for Chivas with a left-footed breakaway goal in the 77th minute.

“I was happy that we never relaxed out there,” Preki said. “We didn’t give anything up tonight, and we stayed disciplined.”

Cortez sees the game as a valuable tune-up for the upcoming MLS season.

“This is a fast field so it makes you play at a faster pace and focus on controlling the ball,” Cortez said. “Once we get into the regular season it will be a faster game because of the competition we play against so this is good practice.”

While the game served as tune up for Chivas’ March 21 opener against Colorado, the event was clearly about more than soccer.

“It was an incredible atmosphere to get to play in,” Nunez said. “It’s great to be able to reach out and help. It was a good event for the fans, and it’s awesome we were able to raise some money.”


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