SBI Team Previews: Chivas USA

Chivas USA - JPEG

By ADAM SERRANO

There's a new regime in town for Chivas USA and it brings a completely different style of play. After three straight first round playoff exits and an inability to score goals, former Chivas USA head coach Preki was removed from his duties for former Chivas USA assistant Martin Vasquez.

Under Vasquez, Los Rojiblancos have changed from a side that emphasizes defense first to a club that will strive for a positive approach. In order to create this, Vasquez has brought in players with superior ball skills who will be able to make the club more dynamic in the attacking third. In Vasquez's new scheme each players from the defense to those up front will be able to contribute creative flow of the game. Enter Salvadoran attacking midfielder Osael Romero to partner with Sacha Kljestan and bring the attacking flair that the fans of Chivas USA have been clamoring for since the club's inception.

To go with the club's new creative attacking mindset, Chivas USA brings back a solid defensive core led by 2009 Goalkeeper of the Year Zach Thornton and US International defender Jonathan Bornstein. Bornstein is likely to start the season at center back where he saw time during the past season, but will likely move back to left back once Columbian Yamith Cuesta proves his meddle to Vasquez. Thornton enjoyed a career year in 2009 and will be key to keeping Chivas in games as the club adjusts to Vasquez's new philosophy. 

Here's a look at Chivas USA:

2010 Chivas USA

Players to Watch- Sacha Kljestan, Jesús Padilla, Justin Braun, Maykel Galindo

Key Arrivals- Michael Umaña, Osael Romero, Blair Gavin

Key Departures- Carey Talley, Jesse Marsch, Shavar Thomas, Paulo Nagamura, Sacha Victorine, Eduardo Lillingston, Jon Conway

Projected Lineup (New starters in bold)

—-Osael Romero———–Maykel Galindo————Jesus Padilla————

——————————–Sacha Kljestan—————————————

————-Michael Lahoud———————Marcelo Saragosa—————-

Ante Jazic—–Jonathan Bornstein——Michael Umaña—–Mariano Trujillo

——————————--Zach Thornton———————————-—–

Biggest Question- Will there be growing pains for Martin Vasquez?  

As Chivas undergoes its transformation to attacking side, the question remains how will the defensive side fare now that the team has had such a dramatic change in philosophy.  In 2009, Chivas struggled to create goals, but the club's solid defensive core allowed the Rojiblancos to earn a playoff berth. With a number of veterans like Talley and Marsch gone from the line up, it will be up to Bornstein and Kljestan to become the leaders and preach Vasquez's new offense.

Throughout preseason, Vasquez has brought in a more relaxed atmosphere to the training ground than his predecessor, emphasizing free kicks while also integrating younger players into the squad. Despite the new mentality, Chivas USA struggled to score against MLS competition during the preseason.

X-Factor- Sacha Kljestan: 2010 is sure to be the dynamic midfielder's most important year yet. Upon returning from national team duty, Kljestan demanded a leadership role in Vasquez's rejuvenated attacking side and was awarded the captain's armband. The midfielder will need to handle the pressure of running the new offense while also becoming the leader that the club needs. A good start of the season for the talismanic midfielder will not only help push Chivas USA to the top of the standings, but may also earn him a spot on the  United States World Cup squad

If Kljestan fails to be the Sacha of 2008, Vasquez will need a big season from another Chivas USA question mark, enigmatic winger Jesús Padilla. Padilla, on loan from mother club Chivas de Guadalajara, struggled in 2009 at a number of different positions for Preki. However, Padilla looks to play a role in Vasquez's new 4-3-3 formation, the very same formation that Padilla enjoyed success with while in Guadalajara.

Outlook- As in 2009, Chivas USA will need to generate offense if the club is going to ascend to the top of the Western Conference. With a number of new faces and a new coach, the club will need to gel if they are going to be competitive in the West. For Chivas to return to the playoffs the squad will need to balance their stingy defense with a new dynamic offense.

Central to the club's success will be the club's ability to put goals on the board to compliment Chivas' defense. With the additions of Romero as well as the continued maturation of Chivas younger attackers, offensive fireworks may become common at Home Depot Center.

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23 Responses to SBI Team Previews: Chivas USA

  1. dunbar says:

    my prediciton, sacha goes on 2008 olympics to 2009 sweden game form and leaves next transfer window.

  2. Isaac says:

    This was the formation I predicted Chivas to come out in. The goal and performance against El Salvador is a good sign from Kljestan. Sacha’s most important element is his confidence, and I think that’s what the game in Florida will lead to, especially considering he’s already asking for captaincy. I hope for nothing more than to see him do well in the MLS. I’m gonna get slammed, but, barring poor play in the MLS, he’s on my World Cup roster ahead of guys like Bedoya, Rogers, Adu, and even Bornstein, who might have played his way off the roster after the Netherlands game(I still love Johnny though).

  3. Josh D says:

    Still missing a tailsman striker – not sure where the goals are going to come from. I’d be scared to have Sascha, confidence-is-my-weakness, Kljestan as my captain leading out the troops..

  4. Shmenge says:

    Nagamura was a huge loss. One of the best d-mids in a league full of good ones.

    Tigres must’ve liked what they saw in the Superliga, so they snatched him up.

    Saragosa is half the talent and twice the cards.

  5. bkmelendez says:

    Nagamura’s new team Tigres is not doing too well and they’d be facing relegation if it wasn’t for Indios. Usually what happens when a big club like Tigres struggles in the Mexican League is they get rid of all their international signings that didn’t live up to expectations in order to bring in new ones. Nagamura will be available come July, almost certain of that.

  6. No.1 ELAC says:

    To be fair, Sacha has NOT earned the captain’s armband. I hope he finds inspiration from it. Osael will be a big plus to this side.

    Our defense will be our downfall, I beleive. Losing Talley will hurt us in the long run.

    Damn fine analysis.

  7. BetaMale says:

    So which MLS team will play the most positive football this year?

  8. Rory says:

    Who? Never heard of him. Is that that new guy Kansas City signed?

    ;-)

  9. sread says:

    My best two teams this year — RSL and Seattle. They both have rosters geared to finish strong…RSL with more goals scored, but Seattle with huge energy, momentum, and support moving toward the playoffs

  10. joshstpaul says:

    was/is lillingston on loan? what happened to him?

  11. scott47a says:

    Outsider’s take:

    This is the team I’m most excited about seeing play this year. They appear to have abandoned the foul-first-and-keep-the-score-down mentality they had last year.

    I know a lot of fans of other teams are glad to see the pairing of Marsch and Nagamura go away. We hated that group up in here in Seattle.

    Will it work? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does.

  12. RLW2020 says:

    i have no reason to believe that but il put money on it.

  13. Lost in Space says:

    Agreed. A Captain should earn the armband.. not be given it simply because they ask or have x number of years with the club. If the rest of the team doesn’t believe in him or he hits another streak of por performances like last year…I see them haveing a difficult road ahead of them.

  14. ELAC says:

    Lillingston was loaned out to Tijuana. Why? My guess is that being the top scorer earns you a trip to the happiest place on earth.

  15. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Lahoud came on strong last year, like to see what another year will do for him. I agree Nagamura is a big loss. And other than Bornstein, who else do you hand the armband to?

  16. Carlos says:

    Chivas has played some of the nicest soccer in MLS for several years. The approach might be different under Vasquez, but to call Preki’s Chivas “defensive” misses the point. Chivas has struggled to score since Galindo and Razov got hurt. Had both remained healthy, they might have a title or two.

    I hear Flores may start and that Osael would likely play behind a single forward or two forwards.

  17. rojiwhite says:

    their is a better chance that you eddie johnson is our first striker option than that happening

  18. GY says:

    Look for Dan Kennedy to fight Thornton for that number 1 spot. He did very well in preseason and the only reason he didn’t get the time last year was b/c of injury.

  19. ELAC says:

    I hear what you are saying, but in reality Preki preferred a more defensive alignment rather than a full-on attack. To his credit, a lot of that had to do with all the injuries Chivas USA was sustaining.

    In a nutshell, Preki was all about defensive discipline and breaking plays in the midfield.

    Vasquez wants to go full bore in the second and third of the midfield.

  20. Chris says:

    RSL a top team? I’m sorry but no, there weren’t even a .500 team last year, they were lucky to get into the play-off, then just hit a hot streak. I see them as the Galaxy of ’05 ver. 2.0 and we all know what happened to them the year following their miracle cup run. Truth be told without Movsisyan and Mathis I don’t see them getting as many goals. Yes, Fidley is still around, but they’ll need more and I don’t think they’ve made the upgrades needed to defend the cup.

  21. Chris says:

    two words; Osael Romero

  22. sread says:

    Mathis gone will hurt in some ways, but he was sooooo lazy! The home crowd would be all over him until he came up with something brilliant…which happens only a handful of times each season. He had lost his legs–besides, their strength came in the central midfield depth and leadership from Beckerman and Morales. They’ll finish in the top 3 of the West easy, although I don’t see a repeat.

  23. Will says:

    agreed, Kennedy actually won the spot 2008.Not that Zach didn’t have great year shot blocking. But Kennedy’s mobility and distribution is better