Thank you Alicia for taking time out to talk about this weekend's match between FC Dallas and Chivas USA. Please read below for insight into our next opponent. I will post the link to the Goat Parade for my answers to her questions when it becomes available.
1. Eric Avila is a player that FC Dallas fans know well having spent 3 years with the horizontal red stripes. Now that Avi is with the vertical red stripes, what kind of a role do you see him playing this year? Will his MLS experience greatly impact a newly rebuilt team with several players new to MLS?
I think Avila will potentially play a significant role this season for Chivas. As you say, he is one of just a handful of players on the roster who have substantial MLS experience, and Chelís seems to like him. He is being asked to play something of a right-sided wingback role so far this season, and that adjustment means his offensive output could potentially be curtailed. On first viewing, I thought he really struggled last week against Columbus, but on second viewing, he seemed to be one of the few players to try and progress the attack during the match. Certainly, there will be growing pains, but Avila has shown enough potential over his career that we hope he can breakout this season for the Goats.
2. With new head coach Chelís imparting his on-the-field philosophy on Chivas USA, what kind of playing style do you expect to see the Goats showcase in the future as the players mature into this new system?
Considering last year Chivas had the second-worst goals tally in league history, practically anything is an improvement. Although previous coach Robin Fraser stressed a possession style that often led to players being too cautious lest they lose the ball, certainly Chelís wants players to hold onto the ball, but to a point. As he described it during the preseason, he wants to play a style that is high tempo and puts pressure on the defense by pressing them constantly, while also creating quick attacks. As we saw during the first game, pretty much none of that style actually happened, so it looks like the team needs time to get it together against MLS opposition. Still, in one of the preseason games, against the Colorado Rapids, Chivas executed this gameplan to a T and won the game 3-0. We'll see which side of the team comes out Sunday against Dallas.
3. What has changed in the off-season to help the Goats score more goals this season?
In theory, they overhauled the roster in part to score more goals this season. By getting rid of aging, oft-injured veterans like Juan Pablo Angel (who returned to play in his native Colombia) and Alejandro Moreno (who retired) they cleared cap space and brought in some young prospects. In addition to Avila, U17 World Cup winner Giovani Casillas joined the club on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara, and Chelís started him and fellow loanee Julio Morales in the season opener, to mixed results. Both showed moments of promise, but couldn't create any goals on the game. The expectation is that the young players (and they are basically all young, including Miller Bolanos, Juan Agudelo and Jose Correa returning) will contribute, but I fear that may be moving too far in the other direction from last year's unproductive veterans.
A good question, since there are so many new players overall. Although he's returning, and I recall him sending a dirty shot to a FCD player last season, I still think Miller Bolanos has to be one of the most important players on the roster, and his improvement over the course of last season makes me think he could be a breakout star this season. In other words, if he plays well, the team's prospects will improve considerably.
Thanks again to Alicia. What are your thoughts on Chivas USA leading up to Sunday? What about FC Dallas' performance last weekend has you excited or concerned? Leave a comment, and thanks for reading.