Chivas USA: 2007 Season Preview

Past 2006 Season Wrap Big Questions after '06
My Thoughts on Chivas' '06 (Know my biases)

2006-07 Off-Season Changes
Soccer New England's Ins & Outs for most roster changes

Chivas USA Roster from (given what they had for Chicago, I'm a bit dubious)

And now, the Future

Key Men
Amado Guevara - Can I call Guevara the “Great Brown Hope” without getting into trouble? In all seriousness, Chivas may have made the smartest “dumb” trade of the off-season with this; he’s not just a proven quantity in the league, but a proven-MVP quantity. The big concern here comes with the possibility of Guevara deciding first-year head coach Preki doesn’t know what he’s doing; at that point, bringing in Guevara could be the dumbest smart trade of the off-season.

Ante Razov - You can’t leave a 14 goal, 8 assist player off a “key men” list of any kind. He all but carried the Chivas offense for some stretches last season. (And, is it just me or does Razov look stoned in his profile picture?)

Jesse Marsch - This guy’s demeanor just screams “leader.” At 34, the young legs might not hold up (don't know for sure), but he keeps things organized with rising stars like Sacha Kljestan - who, by the way, I really, really wanted to add here, but one can have only so many key men.

Orlando Perez - With both Claudio Suarez and Carlos Llamosa being born in the 60s (!), Perez stands as the most mobile of the wise, old heads in the back line. The arrival of Alex Zotinca from Kansas City could help here.

Jonathan Bornstein - As much as I like Bornstein - he’s alert, smart, and skilled, so what’s not to like? - he rates in this group in his capacity as a one-man depth machine. His capacity to plug so many different holes on the field makes him a deeper asset than he’d be on playing ability alone.

Additional Assets (Chicago didn’t have this ‘cause I didn’t think they had any)
Depth at ‘Keep - With Brad Guzan and Preston Burpo, this time doesn’t have a “1-2” in goal so much as a “1-1a.” Both are solid ‘keepers and give Chivas plenty of depth in nets.

Spring/Autumn Defense - In his write-up of the 2006 season, Luis Bueno mentioned a “lack of concentration” as costing Chivas games. How many of those came due to a green-ish defense? On the other side of the age equation are Llamosa and Suarez. Between the lack of foot-speed and the lack of experience, Chivas could again struggle on defense.

Scoring - If last year’s regular-season stretch-run showed anything, it’s how dependent this team was on Razov for scoring. They didn’t add any players of major note in the off-season, but I’ve read a nice(-ish) thing or two about Matt Taylor, then there’s word of Laurent Merlin perhaps joining the team, Maykel Galindo, who played well in the USL Division 1, joining from Seattle, etc. The question is whether those players can make up for the losses of Jesus Morales (tricky, fast), Juan Francisco Palencia, and Juan Pablo Garcia. On paper, though, it’s hard to not be dubious.

Jorge Barrera - Shows in that link as a midfielder, but the roster shows him as a defender. If the latter is the case, maybe he’s the answer to the concerns about the spring/autumn defense. (If you hit the link, by the way, you’ll get bits and pieces about some of the other new players).

New Coach - It could be I’m giving Preki the benefit of the doubt by slipping him down here, but, till a man has a record, it seems more fair to list him in the unknowns. The biggest potential problem, I’ve already mentioned: Guevara. But he’d only offer the most dramatically negative reaction; a lack of faith in the new coach will manifest itself in a dozen little ways. So, for Preki’s sake, let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

Prospects - Using Gambling Analogies
Picture a baseball poker game with some cards showing all around the table; by acquiring Guevara, Chivas is gambling on filling an inside straight; because it’s baseball, there are a fair number of wild cards in play, but it’s a risky maneuver nonetheless. It’s not for nothing that I view acquiring Guevara constitutes one of the highest potential upside gambles since Eddie Johnson left Dallas for Kansas City. Overall, the seeming improvement of a couple Western Conference teams has me wondering whether they'll be able to keep up in 2007. I wouldn't write 'em off, either, but suspect they'll struggle.

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