Five Questions for Chivas USA
Chivas USA’s 2010 MLS season starts this Friday evening with the team hosting the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center. Here are five questions to consider as the Red-and-White prepare for the club’s sixth season.
1. Is This the Year We Win it All?
I might as well start with the big one. The Red-and-White have been a viable contender for the MLS Cup in each of the last four seasons, but has never managed to break through the first round of the playoffs. Is this the year we finally hoist the MLS Cup? It will all come down to chemistry. If Chivas USA’s cavalcade of young talent can quickly gel with each other, then there’s no reason that the team’s quick, attacking style won’t take them deep into the playoffs. But if it takes a few months for this largely new roster to click into a solid rhythm, we might be facing another year without the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.
2. Is Martín Vásquez Ready for the Big Time?
There can be no doubting Vásquez’s pedigree. The Mexico native most recently spent a year as an assistant coach under Jürgen Klinsmann at famed German club Bayern Munich. Before that, Vásquez had done time as an assistant with Cal Poly – Pomona, the San Diego Spirit, the LA Galaxy, and even Chivas USA during its first three seasons. Add to that a long career as a player on both sides of the border and you’ve got a pretty impressive resume. But now that he is finally a Head Coach, will Vásquez have the chops to lead Chivas USA back to the playoffs?
3. Who will win the Chivas USA Golden Boot?
With a new focus on offense at Chivas USA, who is most likely to become the team’s goalmouth assassin this season? Maykel Galindo has looked good so far, scoring seven goals during preseason scrimmages, and Justin Braun has provided his usual muscle in the penalty area for three goals himself. But don’t count out creative midfielders Sacha Kljestan or Osael Romero, as Martín Vasquez’s new attacking style urges them to push forward. A dark-horse bet in this category may be Jorge Flores on the left wing. The youngster has proven his goal-scoring prowess in the past, most notably notching three times in just eleven appearances in 2008.
4. Who will be in net?
Zach Thornton had a monster season for Chivas USA in 2009, pulling down a league-leading 12 shutouts and earning 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. But a thigh strain at a US National Team Camp in February has hindered the veteran’s preseason preparations and opened the door for returning backup keeper Dan Kennedy. Kennedy will likely start against Colorado, will he keep his place once Thornton is back to one hundred percent?
5. Are We TooYoung?
At the start of the 2009 season, the average age of the Chivas USA roster was twenty-seven and a half. At the start of this season, it has dropped down to just below twenty-five. There’s no doubt that the Red-and-White have looked quicker, younger, and more nimble during the 2010 preseason, but will their lack of experience haunt them in the end? The answer is no as long as players like Kljestan, Bornstein, Jazic, and Trujillo step into a larger leadership role this year.