Vásquez, de los Cobos set to make history

MLS pioneers match wits as Chivas USA meet Fire

When Martín Vásquez took the helm at Chivas USA last December, he became the first Mexican full-time coach in MLS history.

Less than six weeks later he had some company in the form of Carlos de los Cobos, who took over and Chicago and gave the league its second former member of El Trí calling the shots from the sideline.

The two will meet for the first time on Saturday night, when the Goats head east to meet the Fire with some historical implications on the line.

“It’s a great honor and a great responsibility,” Vásquez said. “This will be a great game for both of us to come out and show our approach and that the way we want to play can be exciting.”

Both Vásquez and de los Cobos spent a chunk of their playing career in the Mexican First Division, represented Mexico at the international level and boast experience coaching clubs outside of their homeland. (Martín in Germany with Bayern Munich, Carlos in El Salvador with C.D. FAS and the Salvadoran National Team)

“Carlos has done very well in Mexico and with El Salvador,” Vásquez said. “Now that he’s been given the opportunity in MLS, he’s going to show the very good coach that he is.”

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Vásquez added. “First of all, as a person, he’s an excellent human being. As a player, he was very successful. And as a coach, he’s somebody that is always trying to help his players become better and develop.”

While there’s no way to tell yet if Saturday’s match will bear some of the classic characteristics of Mexican soccer, Vásquez feels that he and de los Cobos do bring a playing style to MLS that may be unique among their peers.

“It will be a style of play that will be attractive,” Vásquez said. “I think both teams are well-balanced. Hopefully we see a good game because that will be good for the league, good for our clubs, and good for the fans.”

If Vásquez and de los Cobos can find success in MLS over the course of the next few seasons, it may open the door for other Mexican and Latin American coaches to move north.

“If we do well, hopefully other MLS teams will consider some of our colleagues,” Vásquez said. “There are good coaches in Mexico, and some of them speak English, which is also a positive. And there are certainly cities in MLS that have large Mexican populations that would be a good fit.”

For now, Vásquez is focused on getting a result on the road at Chicago before guiding his team past tough matches against New England on May 5 and Houston on May 9.

“We’re taking one game at a time,” he said. “Right now, all our focus is on preparing for Chicago, but always remembering the tough week that we have ahead.”