This may very well be the last year of the goats in Southern California. While we still have them, however, Big D Soccer is asking the tough, hard questions. Alicia at The Goat Parade was kind enough to donate some of her time this week; here's what she had to say about Chivas USA:
1) With news that MLS is shopping for a new ownership group, Chivas USA is on the threshold of a major renovation. In the meantime, the club must focus on 2014. What were the major moves taken during the off-season to improve upon last year?
Well, there have been major moves for the Goats. To start, they hired another coach from the Colorado Rapids, Oscar Pareja's assistant Wilmer Cabrera, and he's brought in a new coaching staff. They have also remade the roster, with just 12 returning players from last year's team. Among the highlights so far have been Mauro Rosales, obtained via trade from the Seattle Sounders, who has so far performed even beyond the expectations I had for him, winger Leandro Barrera, a youngish Argentine who has shown considerable chemistry already with Rosales and Erick Torres, and rookie Thomas McNamara, who scored in his debut and played holding mid very well in a pinch last week, to my considerable surprise.
It seems Cabrera will have more of a first unit than Chivas had last year, when constant roster turnover and the poor quality of the team overall led to no real consistency in the starting XI, but there are still more players to be integrated into the team, including English striker Luke Moore and Mexican cult legend Adolfo Bautista, popularly known as Bofo.
So far, so good, although it's only been two games. For now, I think Chivas USA fans are content to ride it out and hope it lasts this time around.
2) FC Dallas and Chivas USA both sit on 1-0-1 records having won 3-2 in Week 1 and tied 1-1 in Week 2 against their respective opponents. Last year, CUSA was the only team to beat FCD until Week 12. Does CUSA have the chemistry in the locker room to unsettle the monochromed hoops again?
Actually, I do. Look, I'm a realist. Chivas USA still have holes, especially defensively. They aren't going to find smooth sailing all season. And they'll hit a rough patch at some point, and will need to overcome adversity.
But if you're wondering if they have the chemistry to beat a team on the road, I think they have that in spades. This group has started so well because they have learned to play well together quickly. I talked to some neutrals about how their opponents performed in the first two games -- did Chivas just get a break with two uninspired performances against them, I wondered? Not entirely, I was told. So again, a letdown will happen. But I'm not heading into the Dallas game expecting doom, and I believe the team feels the same way.
3) Have you heard any rumors about possible suitors for Chivas USA? Who is the front runner?
Well, this information is being kept pretty airtight right now. I've heard a couple of hazy rumors, but nothing strong enough to indicate any serious movement at this point. I will say that I believe Don Garber in that Colorado Rapids/Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke is not in the running, despite English tabloids trying to claim otherwise.
4) [Bonus] Match predictions?
It is Chivas USA's first road match, but...I'm calling a win for the visitors, 2-1.
Can FC Dallas rain on the goats' parade Saturday (possibly literally)? What are your thoughts about FCD's Week 3 opponent?
Again, thank you to Alicia at The Goat Parade, and thank you to all of our readers.