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PREVIEW: Chivas USA has its work cut out
by Paul Kennedy, March 2nd, 2014 8:13PM

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TAGS:  chivas usa, mls

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[MLS 2014: Western Conference] If Chivas USA players were affected by the news that MLS had taken over the club from its owners, Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, they didn't show it. Two days after the announcement, Chivas USA went out and beat New England, 3-2, in a match it trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. It finished the preseason without a defeat in eight games. Not bad for a lame-duck team.

Promising starts are nothing new. In 2013, Chivas USA started the regular season 3-1-1, then collapsed, going 14 straight games without a win and finally finishing the season with five straight losses. Its 6-20-8 record was only slightly worse than its 7-18-9 record in 2012.

In January, Wilmer Cabrera was brought in to take over as head coach, and within a week of the sale of the team to MLS Nelson Rodriguez was named club president. The sale does take some pressure off the team for immediate results as MLS seeks new owners, and Cabrera isn't blinded by the preseason results.

What needs work? "We have to work on everything," Cabrera said. "We have to fix everything. And you just don't fix everything in a few weeks."

2013 Chivas USA
Record: 6-20-8
Finish: 9th in Western Conf.
Playoffs: did not qualify.

WHY BE OPTIMISTIC? Cabrera and Rodriguez give the club two men experienced in the ways of MLS, something that was seriously lacking last season. In Erick Torres, Chivas USA has one of MLS's best young strikers. Cubo scored seven goals in 15 games after arriving in July, and he should keep that strike rate up thanks to the arrival of Mauro Rosales from Seattle. Rosales gives Chivas USA one of MLS's most dangerous players on set pieces, the perfect set-up man for the likes of Carlos Bocanegra and Torres. Cabrera is high on veteran Argentine midfielder Agustin Pelletieri, as well as Clemson winger Thomas McNamara, who could be the surprise of this year's rookie class.

WHY BE PESSIMISTIC? Vergara says Torres will be returning to Guadalajara once his loan deal expires in June. Oh, well. No one else scored more than three goals for Chivas USA in 2013. Age is not on Chivas USA's side. Six of the projected starters are 30 or older, and the club has little depth to withstand injuries. The final big-name signing from the Chivas USA era was Adolfo Bautista, but the former Mexican international, now 34, has seen better days. The most recent signings, Pelletieri, Englishman Luke Moore and Spaniard Dani Fragoso, plus Argentine Leandro Barrera, whom Chivas USA will likely sign, are untested in MLS.

PROJECTED FINISH: 9th place. Chivas USA was last in the Western Conference -- 18 points behind FC Dallas -- in 2013. The Goats will be better in 2014 but 18 or more points better? Don't count on it.



PROJECTED LINEUP: 4-4-2
Goalkeeper:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
1-Dan Kennedy (31)/USA (7th season)

Defenders:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
15-Eric Avila (26)/USA (2nd season)
3-Carlos Bocanegra (34)/USA (2nd season)
2-Bobby Burling (29)/USA (3rd season)
4-Tony Lochhead(32)/New Zealand (Wellington Phoenix)

Midfielders:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
7-Mauro Rosales (30)/Argentina (Seattle Sounders)
30-Oswaldo Minda (33)/Ecuador (3rd season)
Agustin Pelletieri (31)/Argentina (Racing Club)
17-Thomas McNamara (23)/USA (Clemson Univ.)

Forwards:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
9-*Erick Torres (21)/Mexico (2nd season)
Luke Moore (28)/England (Elazigspor)

First off the bench:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
20-Carlos Alvarez (23)/USA (2nd season)
10-Adolfo Bautista (34)/Mexico (Atl. San Luis)
26-Matthew Fondy (24)/USA 2nd season)
16-Andrew Jean-Baptiste (21)/USA (Portland Timbers)
Chivas USA: complete roster.

Note:
returning players in bold.
*on loan.

MARCH SCHEDULE:
March 9: Chicago, 3 pm ET (UniMas)
March 16: Vancouver, 7 pm ET
March 22: at FC Dallas, 8:30 pm ET
March 30: at New York, 3 pm ET (UniMas)
Chivas USA: complete schedule.


3 comments
  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 3, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.
    C'mon Ric, you know that Vergara/Cue ownership of this team has been a disaster. I have said for a long time that Chivas needs to "trade" or "transfer" these two gentlemen before the club could ever improve. Now things are on the upswing with the best possible change, a much-needed vital change in ownership taking place. Unfortunately for Chivas Guadalajara they still continue to suffer the Vergara curse, he really needs to go.
  1. John Burns
    commented on: March 4, 2014 at 12:46 a.m.
    Is the team going to continue to be known as "Chivas USA"?
  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 4, 2014 at 12:10 p.m.
    Good point John, another thing this team has needed for the longest time has been a sense of local identity, such as Chivas Los Angeles rather than the lame generic "Chivas USA" (when I last checked Los Angeles was still located in the US).

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