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'14 Season Preview: Sweeping changes at Chivas USA
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor
Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A lot has changed at Chivas USA since the club ended another disappointing campaign last October.
And maybe that's a good thing.
Since making its last playoff appearance in 2009, Chivas has failed to win more than eight games in a single season and has become a bit of a punchline in Major League Soccer.
Last year the club went through two head coaches on its way to a 6-20-8 campaign, which was good enough for last place in the Western Conference and the second worst record in MLS.
Add to that the negative publicity the club received while under the control of owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, and the atmosphere around the club was downright toxic.
But as the Goats prepare for a new season, sweeping changes have taken place, starting at the top, and the hope is that the club can finally begin to climb back toward contention and start to make headlines for the right reasons.
Earlier this month Major League Soccer purchased the club back from Vergara and Fuentes and the league will run the team until a new owner can be found.
The roster also saw a good deal of turnover with potential impact players joining the club in midfielder Mauro Rosales and forward Luke Moore.
Rosales will bring much-needed ability as a playmaker to the midfield with the 33-year-old doing a great job in that spot with Seattle Sounders FC over the past three seasons as he notched 12 goals with 34 assists during that time.
Moore brings experience from the English Premiership having spent time with Aston Villa, West Bromwich and Swansea City, and the hope is that he will form a potent partnership with young forward Erick Torres, who was one of the lone bright spots on the team last season as he led the club with seven goals in just 15 appearances.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste was acquired from the Portland Timbers to try and help shore up the leakiest back line in MLS, which yielded a league-high 67 goals in 34 games last term.
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy is one of the better netminders in the league, and he will hope for a bit more help in front of him with Jean-Baptiste joining veteran Carlos Bocanegra in the middle of the back line.
Rosales may have just joined Chivas this offseason, so he wasn't around during last season's disastrous campaign. But he is confident that the team is on the same page and that the changes the club has made will benefit them in the end.
"It is really good that everyone is on the same page, that everyone wants to be a good team, and that everyone is excited for the season," Rosales said. "It is a new beginning for everybody, it's a new opportunity for most of the players, and we are trying to help everyone in the team to be successful. Everybody is doing something for the team, that's just who we are."
In addition to a revamped roster, the club also has a new man in charge in head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who has spent time as a youth national team coach with the United States as well as an assistant with the Colorado Rapids.
Cabrera won't have huge expectations to meet in his first season with Chivas, but he is hoping that his side can make small improvements over the course of the year that will move the team in the right direction.
"We're improving in all aspects. We're still making some mistakes, but we're improving," Cabrera said during the preseason. "We're improving in concentration, fitness, technical, and obviously the team functionality, that's important. [We're] still behind, but we're improving step-by-step; we're taking little steps but we're moving forward."
ACQUISITIONS: Mauro Rosales (M), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (D), Adolfo Bautista (F), Luke Moore (F).
LOSSES: Gabriel Farfan (M), Jorge Villafana (D), Tristan Bowen (F), Josue Soto (M), Marvin Iraheta, Steve Purdy (D).
OUTLOOK: Expectations will be low for this team, which is in major transition, but the best case for the Goats is that the team's young players continue to develop while veterans such as Rosales and Bocanegra can remain healthy. The hope is that Cabrera can fulfill his potential as an up-and-coming coach while helping his team make strides from last season. Playoff contention is unrealistic at this stage in a tough Western Conference, but if Cabrera can bring this team together and build a solid foundation in his first year, this season will be important for the future of the club while MLS finds it a new owner.
03/03 12:59:24 ET
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