Seizing the moment

Veterans Flores and Kennedy are playing a more important role

Dan Kennedy New England

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

CARSON, Calif. (Tuesday, May 24, 2011) - Player acquisitions are an important part of building a team, and Chivas USA had a great offseason in that regard, bringing in players like Heath Pearce, Alejandro Moreno and Nick LaBrocca. But that’s only a part of building a successful team. Continuity and stability are also huge, so it should come as no surprise that two of Chivas USA most important players this season also happen to be two of the team’s longest serving members.

Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and Midfielder Jorge Flores are very familiar faces to Chivas USA fans. They’re both Southern California natives who’ve been with the team for years. However, they have only featured intermittently for the Goats in previous campaigns, and both started off this season on the bench again. In the third game this year, an April contest against Toronto, Kennedy and Flores were both given the chance to start. They seized the opportunity, starting every game since, and emerging as two of the team’s most important players.

Dan Kennedy was originally drafted by Chivas USA in 2005. He spent three years playing abroad in Puerto Rico and Chile, before beginning his Red-and-White career in 2008. Injuries cost him all of 2009, and most of 2010, but Kennedy didn’t let that keep him down. Kennedy stayed in good spirits, always positive, always working hard. This season it’s finally paying off for the 28-year old. He’s healthy and starting to be recognized as one of the league’s top ‘keepers.

“This is what I expect of myself,” said Kennedy. “Every player at this level has been through injuries here and there. You just have to be patient, and sometimes just trust in working hard for yourself and know that it’ll come back around for you.”

Jorge Flores has also made the most of his opportunities this season. Though only 21, the Anaheim native is the longest continuously serving Chivas USA player, having joined the team in 2007. When informed of this little bit of trivia, Flores was surprised.

“I didn’t know,” he said, laughing. “It feels good. It’s good to be part of this team, but I didn’t know that I’ve been here the longest.”

Though he played as a defender for most of preseason, and as a forward earlier in his career, Flores seems to finally found his place. His ability to both attack and defend, coupled with his accurate left-footed crosses, has made him invaluable to the Chivas USA team as a left midfielder.

“Jorge is a young player who is getting better all the time and getting better every game,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “This run of games has been good for him, good for his confidence. When you can get a young player with some good abilities, and you start to give them confidence, he becomes a productive player.”

The player known as “Sueño”, because he made the team via the grassroots try-out contest Sueño MLS, couldn’t agree more with his coach.

“It makes you a better player, it gives you more confidence,” said Flores about being an everyday starter. “I mean, this is the way to mature, playing more games. I feel good that [Fraser] has the confidence in me. I’m just playing the way I can play, and I’m glad to help the team win games.”