Friday, November 06, 2009
Chivas midfield has Brazilian flavor Nagamura, Saragosa partnership adding flair, stability to middle 11/06/2009 5:33 PM By Jeffrey King / MLSnet.com
"Paulo [Nagamura] and I have played together before," said Marcelo Saragosa (pictured). (Getty)
CARSON, Calif. -- Paulo Nagamura and Marcelo Saragosa have a lot in common. They were both born in Brazil (only 620 miles apart), they both speak Portuguese, and lately, they both have been patrolling the center of the Chivas USA midfield.
Nagamura and Saragosa have been paired together in central midfield for some part of each of the Red-and-White's last four games. With a strong performance from the two in last Sunday's first leg of the playoff SuperClásico against the LA Galaxy, it's a partnership that could become important if Chivas USA's 2009 playoff campaign is to continue.
"Paulo and I have played together before and we know well how each other plays," said Saragosa. "We also both speak Portuguese, so that helps make it easy to play with him as well."
Nagamura has been a constant presence in central midfield this season. The 26-year-old has started in 25 games for Chivas USA in 2009, and has partnered with a few different players in the center of the field, including Jesse Marsch, Sacha Kljestan, Michael Lahoud and Saragosa.
"I've had a couple of guys playing there next to me," said Nagamura. "I try to keep doing the job that I have been doing of being a two-way midfielder. I try to be solid in the middle to help the defense but go forward and make some runs to create some space for the other midfielders also. It all depends who I'm playing next to."
Nagamura is happy to partner with Saragosa. The two are old friends and feel comfortable playing together.
"Marcelo brings a lot of defensive work for our team," said Nagamura. "He's pretty solid in there. He's going to cover a lot of ground and that gives me more freedom to maybe join the attack and make some more runs forward.
"When we play together," he continued, "we have a very good understanding of how to cover each other and how to support each other on the field. My communication with Marcelo is also a great asset."
Saragosa joined Chivas USA on July 17 of this year in a trade with FC Dallas. He has been a versatile asset for the Red-and-White and has played at both right back as well as in the midfield.
"I played on the right in Dallas, but I feel much happier in the middle," said Saragosa. "My natural position is in the middle. I know where to be and how to create space."
Saragosa is glad to be playing alongside Nagamura, and feels that his talents blend well with Nagamura's.
"I think I'm a little stronger than Paulo because I'm bigger," said Saragosa. "But he knows the offense well and moves forward much better. When we play together, we make a good team because our talents complement each other."
While there is no certainty that Nagamura and Saragosa will again be paired together in Sunday's match, one thing is for sure: Chivas USA will need to come out firing if they are going to triumph over their in-stadium rivals.
"We have to attack," said Nagamura. "We have to have numbers forward in order to score. I'm going to look for the ball in the spots where I know I can hit the ball well and hopefully some goals come in this important game."
Jeffrey King is a contributor to MLSnet.com