[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is like no coach MLS has ever seen before. It isn't every day that a coach says that his players played stupendously, but that's what "El Chelis" did after overachieving Chivas USA's surprise 1-1 draw -- with 10 men -- against the defending champion LA Galaxy. "On the field," he added, "we won a point, but off the field we won a hundred points in respect."
Chivas USA earned some respect -- sort of -- from Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
"Certainly give them credit, they played really hard," Arena said afterwards. "They fouled us as much as they could and got away with as much as they could, but that's all part of the game; that's not surprising. There's no excuses on our part."
Chivas USA had Joaquin Velasquez sent off in the 40th minute and finished with 22 fouls to the Galaxy's eight in a game that was several times in danger of getting out of hand. But instead of taking Arena's comments as a criticism, "El Chelis" chose to praise Arena.
“I would like to take my hat off [to Arena]," the Chivas USA coach said. "He’s a coach that has seen many, many more games than me and has coached many, many more games than me. If he said that we committed many fouls, he has his reasons. What I can say is that my team does not play with bad intentions. I really believe this is just part of the game and my players are trying to recuperate and win every ball throughout the game. However, unintentionally, this effort can result in a foul. Nevertheless, I respect Mr. Arena’s opinion.”
"El Chelis" said the effort of his players was more important than the result.
“On the field, we won a point, but off the field we won a hundred points in respect," he said. "At this point, when we talk about respect, we are a team that deserves to be champion. Our rival is one of the best in the league; they have my admiration and respect for what they do. As for my players, as usual, they kept on fighting, made a great effort, and I would like for everybody to respect that effort. I would like for this institution to be respected as well, that is the way it should be. This institution deserves respect.”
"El Chelis" said he does not care about winning championships.
"What I care for is my players and how they honor this profession as soccer players," he said. "I care about those human beings that as of now I can say that after they retired as professional players, they will be great individuals. This is a group of very honest young men that want to do well in what they do [play soccer] and they do it stupendously.”
Chivas USA earned the draw thanks to an 89th-minute goal from rookie Carlos Alvarez in his MLS debut.
“Alvarez was a great college soccer player," said "El Chelis," "but the MLS level is different and he’s adjusting to it. He keeps on making the effort day in and day out, but please, let’s talk about Alvarez, the human being, the young guy with big charisma, the guy who today, making his debut in the league, scored his first goal and against the Galaxy no less. Alvarez, the individual who grew up loving this institution, in this city, and as I said, he scored in front of his family, friends, and followers. We, as an institution, should feel fortunate to have him.”