Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
New coach brings Chivas USA back to its roots
by Ridge Mahoney, December 2nd, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] Two down, three to go. Chivas USA is hiring of former Mexican and U.S. international Martin Vasquez as its new head coach, leaving three teams - D.C. United, Chicago, and New York - with the position yet to be filled.

Vasquez, who turns 46 on Christmas Eve, replaces Preki, who left by mutual consent three weeks ago after the Galaxy knocked Chivas USA out of the playoffs at the conference-semifinal stage for the third consecutive season.

 

Vasquez is the fifth head coach in the team's five seasons of operation, following Hans Westerhof, Thomas Rongen, Bob Bradley and Preki.

Toronto FC swooped in to sign Preki as its replacement for Chris Cummins less than a week after his departure from Chivas USA had been officially announced, though schisms between Preki and team management had been bubbling for much of the regular season.

Sources have stated Preki balked at directives regarding personnel and other team issues emanating from parent club Guadalajara and team owner Jorge Vergara, who launched Chivas USA as an MLS expansion team in 2005 but had retreated into the background after a disastrous first season.

Not counting the brief tenure of interim head coach Arturo Javier Ledesma, Vasquez's hiring represents the first native-born Mexican coach to head Chivas USA. A native of Yahualica, Mexico, he moved with his family to Southern California when he was 12 and attended Cal State Los Angeles before playing pro soccer on both sides of the border before retiring in 1999.

Vasquez knows MLS well, having played for Tampa Bay and San Jose and working as an assistant coach with the Galaxy and Chivas USA.

As head coach of Bayern Munich, former German international Juergen Klinsmann brought Vasquez to Germany as his assistant, but he returned to the USA last April when Klinsmann was dismissed. Vasquez soon emerged as a possible replacement for Preki as the team fell off the top of the Western Conference standings and players arrived on loan from Mexico instead of possible acquisitions the coach had targeted.

Vasquez also the first Chivas USA head coach to speak fluent Spanish, which should give the team a much clearer identity than it has had in the past and bring the club back closer to what Vergara forecast for the team when he invested in MLS. But most die-hard Guadalajara fans living in the area rejected the team and/or the MLS product, which forced a strategic re-think.

In the past few seasons, the team had moved away from its Mexican heritage and presented the same multicultural face as many other MLS teams, with most of the non-American players on its roster of Concacaf origin. Cuban striker Maykel Galindo has been with the club for three seasons, yet speaks little English, causing a language gap that Vasquez can bridge.

Rongen didn't last through the first season, and Westerhof, director of the parent club's youth development programs, finished up before Bradley took over in 2006. Bradley left after one season to coach the U.S. national team and handed to the reins to Preki, who had been his assistant.

"I think they gave up on what defined them, at least at first, too early, even though I can understand why they did it," says Alexi Lalas, who left his post as Galaxy GM last year and once worked with Shawn Hunter, a former Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) executive hired as Chivas USA president and CEO two years ago. "I wouldn't presume to speak for Shawn Hunter or tell him what he should do, but this will not only appeal to the fans they already have, but that potential fan base that does exist.

"He can say, 'Well, maybe this is not your father's Chivas, but it's not entirely different either.' Just having a coach who can speak fluent Spanish and English is a big plus with the fans and the press, and the players."

Vasquez, who was a Chivas USA assistant coach in 2005-08, will have numerous player issues to resolve right out of the gate. Injuries have decimated the team the past two seasons, and veterans such as Jesse Marsch, Sacha Victorine and Ante Razov are either entering option years or will be out of contract.

Team icon Claudio Suarez played just 111 minutes last season. Jesus Padilla, Yamith Cuesta and Maicon Santos arrived on loan from Mexico in midseason, and striker Eduardo Lillingston and Mariano Trujillo contributed in the first half of the season but were on and off the bench in the final months.

"He's an articulate guy and an intelligent guy," says Lalas. "This brings them closer to what they came into the market as, and maybe off the field they had to go through this process. But it doesn't matter what language you speak if you don't have a successful and entertaining team."

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: How MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal came about     
The best promotional video ever gets underway with Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco and Herculez Gomez, features ...
Making a List: MLS players on move to NASL    
Brazilian defender Adailton became the latest former MLS player to sign with an NASL team when ...
MLS player tracker with complete rosters (Feb. 10)    
The Philadelphia Union signed forward C.J. Sapong to a three-year contract. He led the Union with ...
Klinsmann breaks down U.S. goalkeeping situation    
As the USA heads into 2016 with the Copa Centenario and World Cup 2018 qualifying on ...
What They're Saying: High schooler Marte Formico    
"It's awesome having Brandi. Someone who has been that caliber of a player, that has been ...
What They're Saying: Fiorentina executive Sandro Mencucci    
"In Italy, people love football, but everybody thinks that football is only for men -- they ...
MLS Preseason: Training camp and friendly schedules    
The MLS champion Portland Timbers head home after playing Real Salt Lake Thursday morning in their ...
USA-Costa Rica Takeaways: USA doesn't mess around    
The USA isn't going to mess around with Olympic women's qualifying. It wasn't the 14-0 rout ...
U.S. Abroad: Bedoya does it again for Nantes    
In France, they call it "la magie de la Coupe" ("cup magic"). CF2 (fifth division) club ...
Video Pick: Back-heel Golazo of the Week    
VfL Bochum's Tim Hoogland has his back to SC Freiburg's goal when teammate Timo Perthel unleashes ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives