Goats No More, Or A Bit Longer? Three Questions for Chivas USA

Chivas USA had a new head coach and a new system last season, but after a slow start the team looked to be set in neutral in the competitive Western Conference.  However, the acquisition of Juan Pablo Angel and a too late run at a playoff spot gave this team a bit of life and fans a reason for optimism.  As the club watched cross-town rivals the Galaxy celebrate with the MLS Cup in their stadium, the future looks mixed for the franchise.

Next up in our 3 Questions series is Chivas USA, a team who has not qualified for the playoffs in two years after a nice run of success to begin the franchise’s history.  Is next year the year when they begin a new streak?

1. Is management committed to this team?

The key to this question is who is making the personnel decisions.  Chivas decided to pass last season on every big name that came through the allocation process.  The speculation was that they were saving their powder for a big signing, and although they took on Juan Pablo Angel from the Galaxy, that big signing never came.  It may come this offseason, but the way the club has gone about building has been confusing.

This offseason so far has not settled those “cheap management” rumors.  Losing Zarek Valentin to Montreal in the expansion draft was very confusing considering that he is a young talent, but as noted here he was coming off his Generation Adidas and the team might have had to take on his entire contract.  If money is the deciding factor on player moves, management has to reconsider the business they are in or begin to realize that good players do cost money.

2. Will “breakouts” Kennedy and Angel carry over into 2012?

To call Juan Pablo Angel a “breakout” is a bit misleading, but Chivas fans haven’t seen that much of a revival since season one of The Walking Dead.  After being ineffective for the Galaxy, LA unloaded him on Chivas to make room for Robbie Keane.  Angel proceeded to score seven goals in nine appearances for the Goats.  Can he do the same in 2012?  First the team has to work out compensation: his New York-signed contract paying him $1 million is way too much, so he and the team have to come to an agreement.  This is even more critical considering Justin Braun was traded to the Impact.

The other shock of 2012 was keeper Dan Kennedy, who quietly put together one of the best seasons in MLS.  I remember seeing him play at DC United this summer and was incredibly impressed with his poise.  He has inked a new contract with the team so he will be set as the unquestioned starter in 2012.  But as a bright spot for the team last season, can he carry over his form in 2012?

3. Are the newcomers the key to success?

Like New England, Chivas has been replacing some of their departed players with MLS veterans.  The club grabbed Arturo Alvarez from RSL in the first stage of the re-entry draft and made trades for midfielder Ryan Smith (Sporting KC) and James Riley (Seattle/Montreal).  As I mentioned previously, it looks like there is help coming from overseas but again that is untested talent in MLS (although definitely it is talent).  You can argue that injuries and inconsistent play really hurt this team’s chances last year, but the acquisitions to this point don’t seem to address these issues.  But like the Revs maybe a few veterans will help with a playoff push.

4 Responses to Goats No More, Or A Bit Longer? Three Questions for Chivas USA

  1. Charles says:

    Come on Chivas, even the Clippers are looking to win now. RHay, you
    should be promoted to a real soccer blog, where you can test your
    skills against the best readers. There are very few Landon Donovans
    and Ozzie Alonsos type readers on this blog.

  2. Peter C says:

    Robert, I think Jorge Vergara, who also owns Chivas de Guadalajara
    and former owner of Saprissa in Costa Rica understands the role of
    money in football. What he does with that understanding is the
    issue. I understand your concern about giving JP Angel $1m, but 7
    goals in 9 appearances, although not sustainable is pretty damn
    good. I think you give him the money until his performance drops. I
    always liked Ryan Smith, and have grudging respect for James Riley,
    but Arturo Alvarez? Unless they can get him at a greatly reduced
    rate, that’s a move I don’t agree with. I would have much rather
    seen them take the salary hit on Valentin, and given Fraser’s
    strength as a defensive coach, the move to trade Valentin is
    baffling. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your next.

  3. Robert Hay says:

    Peter - just to clarify, you believe JPA should be getting $1m per year? I agree he is a high-value player but in MLS money that is a gigantic contract. They need to lower that number (even if the league foots some of the bill) to free up money for other acquisitions.

  4. Peter C says:

    Robert, Yes, you read me correctly. If my calculations are
    correct(and there’s no guarantee of that), Chivas USA has around
    $553K available to fill 4 ‘on the books’ roster slots, plus
    allocation money. That’s based on the last numbers released by the
    MLSPU. It includes nearly $202K for Alvarez and over $106K for
    Tristen Bowen, who they loaned out last year. Their other high
    ticket players are Pearce($257K+), Courtois($206K), Umana($145.5K),
    Moreno($182K), Smith($144K+) and Jazic($123.5K). Given that they
    were 13th in goals scored and Braun’s inconsistency that you
    mention, I say again yes to the money for JPA, for at least one
    more year.

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