Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
MLS Preview: Maligned Chivas USA sets new direction
by Ridge Mahoney, February 18th, 2013 2:53PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  chivas usa, mls

MOST COMMENTED

Editor's Note: Soccer America begins its countdown to the MLS season with previews of each of the 19 teams.

By Ridge Mahoney

The much-awaited exodus under new head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is underway; as of Monday, a dozen players under contract at the end of the 2012 season had been jettisoned, and another – midfielder Shalrie Joseph – has been told he won’t be needed.

“El Chelis,” as Sanchez is known, may be an MLS neophyte, but he’s already stocked up on that valuable asset unique to MLS -- allocation money -- by trading away the likes of Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski and last year’s No 5 overall SuperDraft pick, Casey Townsend. Chivas USA also received a chunk of allocation money for missing the playoffs, and dumped a lot of salary with the likes of Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno and Danny Califf off the books.

Still, "El Chelis" may need every dollar of that allocation stash, as Joseph’s guaranteed DP salary will cost Chivas USA $335,000 against the $2.95 million per-team salary cap if it can’t unload him. How he negotiates the byzantine ways of MLS after coaching in Mexico will determine how well he revamps a team that does have some valuable pieces in place, whether or not he chooses to retain them: goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, striker Juan Agudelo, defender Bobby Burling and midfielder Miller Bolanos.

Operator-investor Jorge Vergara vowed to strengthen the team’s identity when he bought out former partner Antonio Cue during the 2012 season. "El Chelis" says his job is to change the team’s culture, and sporting director Dennis Te Kloese – who formerly worked with the club’s player development programs – will be jetting back and forth between Southern California and Guadalajara to monitor both operations.

Mario de Luna, Joaquin Velasquez, Jose Manuel Rivera, Walter Vilchez, Edgar Mejia, Giovani Casillas, Daniel Antunez, Josue Soto and Julio Morales -- many on the Chivas de Guadalajara payroll -- all played in a 3-0 defeat of Colorado in Las Vegas Sunday. None is currently on the MLS club's roster, though.

KEY PLAYER MOVES. A trade from Colorado, which in turn had claimed him in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, has seemed to energize not only Eric Avila. The trade of Zemanski to Portland netted the MLS rights to former Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein along with the allocation money. The only other signings to date are veteran defenders Steve Purdy and Carlos Borja. Carlos Alvarez, the No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick, grew up in Los Angeles idolizing former Chivas USA players Claudio Suarez, Francisco Mendoza and Francisco Palencia.

WHY BE OPTIMISTIC? "El Chelis" talks of stylish play as a means to success, and though preseason games can’t necessarily be determinant of anything, Chivas USA posted a six-match unbeaten streak. Just seven wins and 24 goals scored last year leaves vast room for improvement, and if some new players can be melded with young talents like Agudelo, the team can be competitive.

WHY BE PESSIMISTIC? Sanchez led Mexican club Puebla to promotion and to the league semifinals one season, but MLS is a whole different ballgame. The team has seldom stirred the Southern California fans of parent club Guadalajara -- or those in other MLS cities -- and they will take extreme convincing that this makeover is the solution. With its lease at Home Depot Center set to expire next year, rumors of a pending move are rampant.

WHY WATCH THIS TEAM? Avila, Agudelo and Bolanos are young, exciting, dynamic players, and the promises of a changed identity and new culture will be intriguing to evaluate as they play out on the field. As he did when he brought the team into MLS eight years ago, Vergara has set out to show the gringos how the game should be done.



3 comments
  1. Joey Tremone
    commented on: February 18, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.
    The statement "he’s already stocked up on that valuable asset unique to MLS -- allocation money by -- trading away the likes of Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski and last year’s No 5 overall SuperDraft pick, Casey Townsend" is pretty misleading. Only one of those three trades (Zemanski) netted any allocation money, and that's not likely to have been very much.
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 19, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
    If Chelis was successful in Mexican league why wouldn't he be successful in MLS? Is there a secret to it? If any foreign coach is ready for the big bad MLS its this guy.
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 19, 2013 at 2:15 a.m.
    VERGARA is looking to get young talent more playing time. We will say a few U18s on that team getting significant playing. Which would be great for this league.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Bruce Arena is a safe bet compared to the gamble U.S. Soccer took on Klinsmann    
It was an exciting and hopeful time, when U.S. Soccer hired Jurgen Klinsmann in the summer ...
Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. years    
More than five years with Jurgen Klinsmann in charge of the U.S. team ended Monday when ...
Tony DiCicco: Jill Ellis has USA on the right track despite Olympic setback    
Tony DiCicco remains the only coach who has guided the U.S. women to a World Cup ...
Klinsmann's promises of progress are not to be found    
The 4-0 blowout loss in Costa Rica Tuesday night is grounds for real concern, not just ...
Asleep at the wheel, an old U.S. habit    
First things first, the better team won on Friday night. Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio recalled ...
Americans' sporadic performance mars a great night for soccer    
A decade and a half of dominance crashed to earth Friday night in Columbus, where Mexico ...
Kinnear is anxious for 'awesome' encounter in Columbus    
Every time the USA plays Mexico those who have taken part in the rivalry think about ...
USL president Jake Edwards on Division II, expansion, MLS relationship and FC Cincinnati phenomenon    
Jake Edwards just completed his second season as the president of the USL. The league expanded ...
Big names laid big eggs in the MLS conference semifinals    
The byzantine MLS playoff schedule goes into hiatus at just the right time, allowing more time ...
Jermaine Jones will get USA audition in Sunday's Rapids-Galaxy playoff game    
After nearly four months on the shelf rehabbing a knee injury, midfielder Jermaine Jones has returned ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives