Chivas USA prove to be road warriors
It’s been a typically sunny and beautiful week of May in Los Angeles, but Chivas USA wouldn’t know anything about it.
The Goats have been away since April 29, taking an early-season swing through Chicago and Foxborough, Mass., which finally comes to an end when the club returns to Southern California on Thursday.
“Usually, when we travel, we only go for two or three days,” co-captain Jonathan Bornstein told MLSsoccer.com. “But for me, I like hanging out with the team for a week straight. The whole time, you’re building bonds.”
Road trips aren’t easy. Chivas USA have been in three different time zones in the last six days, staying in two different hotels and traveling together in cramped buses.
“When you do go on the road, especially to the East Coast, you have to acclimate to the time change,” said Bornstein. “The weather is also a little bit different, and the fields are different. Playing New England on turf is a lot different than playing on the Home Depot Center grass. But it’s still the game of soccer.”
While they’re away from home, the Chivas USA players also eat most meals together.
“Team meals are great,” midfielder Jesus Padilla said. “We eat a lot of pasta and chicken. We have to eat well to prepare for practices and games.”
While some meals are eaten individually, with players finding food on their own before and after training sessions, new Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez has increased the number of meals eaten as a group to encourage unity among the squad.
“This year is a little different than years past,” said Bornstein. “We’re constantly eating as a team. We usually get up around 9:30 for breakfast, then we have training, and then lunch is after that, around 2 p.m. Then we usually have a dinner at 7 or 7:30 p.m. You have a little bit of downtime to do what you want between those meals.”
That downtime is generally spent with teammates, killing time with activities in the hotel or sightseeing in whichever city the club is staying.
“A lot of us have been playing been cards,” Bornstein said. “In Chicago, we walked around the city. We went and watched the Lakers game. A lot of the guys are big sports fans, so we try to watch as many sports games as possible.”
“I also bought a Nintendo DSI and Justin [Braun] has one too, so we battle each other on Mario Kart,” continued Bornstein. “I use Yoshi, and so does he. But he doesn’t even stand a chance with his Yoshi. It’s not even a contest"
When they’re on the road, the players of Chivas USA are also paired into roommates for hotel stays.
“The roommates are decided by [team administrator/assistant coach] Kevin Esparza,” said Bornstein. “He goes around and makes the matchups based on how things are going. My roommate this year is Sacha [Kljestan]. Sacha and I are co-captains, so it’s good for us to be together because we can talk about stuff when we need to.”
Consider the club’s first extended road trip of the season a successful one. They salvaged a 1-1 draw against Chicago and hammered the Revolution on Wednesday, earning their first road win of the season and their first-ever win at Gillette Stadium.
They host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.
“Road trips can be hard,” Padilla said. “But our team is a family. And that helps.”