Chivas USA return to training, try to build for 2011

Goats doing their best not to focus on search for head coach

CARSON, Calif. — After a two-week break at the end of the MLS regular
season, Chivas USA have returned to practice.

“We’re just trying to regroup,” striker Justin Braun said after training on Tuesday.
“We want to put this past season behind us and go out and have some fun. It was
a tough season. We need to try to get back that belief that we can go forward
and build towards next year.”

The Red-and-White are returning from the two-week hiatus they were given
after the season finished up on Oct. 23.

“I went home and tried to get away from soccer a little bit,” Braun said.
“I spent some time with my family in Salt Lake. I think a lot of guys did that
– went home and spent time with their families. It was a long year, so it’s
always good to get away from the game and clear your head a little.”

Chivas USA ended their “long” 2010 with an 8-14-4 record, which put them in last place of the Western Conference and saw them miss out on the MLS Cup playoffs for
the first time since 2005.

“This club has a high standard when it comes to making the playoffs and
that’s something we’re hoping to do next year,” midfielder Michael Lahoud said.
“That starts with keeping a professional mentality and it starts with weeks like
these where we come in and train.”

Chivas USA’s postseason has been complicated by the departure of head coach
Martín Vásquez at the end of the year. The Mexican had been at the helm for
just 10 months when he was released from his contract on Oct. 27.

“I was very surprised,” Lahoud said of Vásquez’s departure. “It’s never
easy when you hear something like that. I wish him the best of luck because I
think his knowledge of the game is way up there. But as a team, we need to
regroup and get back on top.”

For now, much of the Red-and-White’s November training sessions have been
run by a combination of the club’s technical staff – who have done their best
to keep the off-field distractions to a minimum.

“The coaches have told us to just go out and have fun,” Braun said.
“They’re not really worried about the stuff off the field – we just want to
focus on our game.”

Whoever is finally chosen for the job will have his work cut out for him
in order to get the Goats back on track. For the players, however, there’s only
so much to be done.

“I’m trying not to focus on all that stuff,” Braun said of the club’s
coaching search. “The people in charge will hopefully choose a good candidate and
hopefully we can have a good season next year. It’s hard anytime a new coach
comes in; it will probably be another rebuilding year. But we’re ready to get
back to work.”

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