Questions arise for Chivas USA in the wake of Kljestan's transfer news
CARSON, Calif. -- In the wake of news that Chivas USA captain Sacha Kljestan will be transferring to Belgian club Anderlecht, the Red-and-White are left with several pressing questions.
MLSsoccer.com breaks down the four biggest issues for the Goats concerning life after Kljestan.
Who will serve as captain?
The most obvious candidate is Jonathan Bornstein, who was officially named co-captain by head coach Martín Vásquez at the start of this year. But with Bornstein in South Africa with the US National Team for the next few weeks, the responsibility will likely fall to Mariano Trujillo.
The Mexican veteran has worn the captain’s armband in every game in which both Kljestan or Bornstein have not played and has shown composure in leading his teammates on the pitch. The real question is that if Trujillo serves as an effective captain for the next few weeks, will Vásquez take the armband away from him upon Bornstein’s return?
Who will drive the offense?
Kljestan had provided most of the offensive spark for Chivas USA so far this season, and filling his shoes in the middle of the pitch will be a daunting task. The Goats are loaded with talented midfielders, but most are primarily defensive players. Rookies Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin, as well as veteran Marcelo Saragosa, are competent in the middle, but lack the creativity and long-range shot that make Kljestan so dangerous.
The onus to push the attack may rest on the shoulders of either Osael Romero or Jose Macotelo. Both are newcomers to the team this year and have shown promise, but are still largely unknown quantities. Solving this problem will be of primary concern for Vásquez, who must find a way to generate goals without Kljestan.
Will the team’s formation change?
In all likelihood, yes. Vásquez has relied heavily on a 4-4-1-1 system for most of the season so far, using Kljestan as a withdrawn striker behind Justin Braun or Maicon Santos. Without Kljestan, Vásquez will likely push the team back into a more traditional 4-4-2, which will give the team the ability to fill Kljestan’s offensive hole with a second striker. Look for Maykel Galindo or Santos to join Braun at the top of the Chivas USA attack.
Will the Goats survive the loss of Kljestan?
They will, but probably not right away. Chivas USA is an exceptionally young team this year, and with a slim corps of veterans already, losing Kljestan could not have come at a worse time. The squad has found itself mired in a five-game losing streak and currently sits in last place in the Western Conference by a five-point margin. Climbing out of that hole without Kljestan —and, depending on the US’ success, maybe without Bornstein for a while— will be a difficult task. Chivas USA fans may see the 2010 season go down in the history books as a “rebuilding year” if the Red-and-White can’t come up with some answers quickly.