Turbulent Week at Chivas

Chelís fired, lawsuit filed and a 2-0 loss to Seattle at home
by Omar Avalos   |   Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Chivas Nation – column on Chivas USA (CUSA) & the Chivas soccer scene.

It turns out that I asked a very valid question in my last article: Will getting back on track and breaking the losing streak include Chelís at the helm?

No, sadly.

Chelís made some questionable lineup decisions throughout the season, but at times he was forced to because of the indiscipline of some of his players. Those players should really reflect hard on the damage that they’ve done to the club, and to Chelís.

José Luis Sánchez Solá will be replaced by José Luis “el Güero” Real, who last coached Chivas de Guadalajara and took them to the Copa Libertadores final in 2010.

Real is set to arrive and take the reins this week, and because of this, Chivas USA Youth Academy Director Sacha van der Most stepped in to coach against Seattle on Saturday night.

Gradual improvements and another deceiving score

Van der Most selected a decent starting lineup, and right away switched to a 4-4-2. His defensive line consisted of Walter Vílchez, Joaquín Velásquez and Bobby Burling at the center, and Mario de Luna at rightback.

The Chivas offense is still struggling, but using the 4-man defensive line will plug up the holes in defense and put a stop to the string of blowouts. Chivas now has to build from the back, getting its defense down first.

Seattle sliced through the Chivas defense in the 21st minute when Bobby Burling got caught hanging and pressed up too high. He, like other defenders, could drop back more and defend in a zone instead of risking pressing up high, especially when you’re the last line of defense. Burling was no match for Obafemi Martins’ speed as he darted through the back and chipped over Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to open the score.

A fairer final score would have been 1-0 in favor of Seattle, but Mario de Luna committed a blunder for the ages, one almost as bad as Germany’s goalkeeper against the U.S. on Sunday. In the 32nd minute, Mauro Rosales floated in a cross that de Luna tried to secure by heading back to Kennedy, but it took the goalkeeper and everyone else by surprise. The result was an own goal. It was the kind of routine cross that is headed out of danger by defenders, but de Luna thought he would secure possession by heading to Kennedy. Instead de Luna handed the game to Seattle.

The final 2-0 was deceiving, but Chivas couldn’t muster up much offense. The rebaño angelino wasn’t dominated, but as Kennedy put it, “The past 6 weeks, all of our games have come down to 3 or 4 plays.”

Two of Chivas’ best hopes are Jorge Villafaña and Eric Ávila. Villafaña can feint his way into the box, but he tends to finish a good feint with a poor pass. Ávila is one of the best dribblers in the midfield and he likes to run at defenses, but he needs someone accompanying his attacks.

The lawsuit

Was the removal of Chelís a distraction from the lawsuit filed against Chivas USA for discriminatory hiring practices? That’s another article unto itself, but it merits some discussion under these extraordinary circumstances.

Former Chivas USA employees Teddy Chronopoulos and Dan Calichman filed a lawsuit alleging that they were fired because of discriminatory hiring practices. The plaintiffs allege that the Chivas organization, through their owner Jorge Vergara, fired them unfairly.

To that I must say this: Major League Soccer conducts business in Spanish as do many of its clubs. The Los Angeles metropolis has the 2nd largest concentration of people of Mexican descent after Mexico City. I live in the LA region where speaking Spanish is normal, but the plaintiffs apparently missed the signs.

Chivas Sporting President Dennis Te Klose is Dutch-born and speaks English, Spanish and Dutch, the same is true of Van der Most. Director of Soccer Francisco "Paco" Palencia speaks Spanish and English, as does Chivas USA President and Chief Business Officer José David. The fact of the matter is that Chivas USA is, at least, a bicultural organization by default.

The plaintiffs will find it difficult to paint Chivas USA as racist or discriminatory when within its business culture, English and Spanish, which are the two dominant languages of commerce for this and many other clubs, have always been used for daily operations. There is plenty of evidence pointing to the contrary to what the plaintiffs say. Some have identified this as a frivolous lawsuit after considering the non-Latinos that work there, and that are part of the club from the youth level all the way up.

For example, the plaintiffs say that Chivas prefers players of Mexican descent at the academy level. How do they explain Bilal Abdallah, Caleb Calvert, Tommy Fraher, Ryo Fujii, Bradford Jamieson, Malcom Jones and Michael Suchy, who all play for the Chivas U16s (who blew away the competition in the US Development Academy League) and James Alewine II, Brian Kennedy, and Jake McGuire, who play for the U18s? Can they really pin the racist argument on Chivas when they have Kennedy, Patrick McLain and Tim Melia on payroll?

On the bright side

The Chivas USA Reserves are winning when the first team isn’t. This is a positive for the club that it will have to build on going forward. Whereas this season’s first team is mostly improvised, and has been redrawn countless times by Chelís, the upcoming academy players are more accustomed to consistency and team cohesion (the U16s finished with 20-3-5), and that’s something that the first team has been lacking. No continuity combined with players with little MLS experience is what is drowning the first team.

Future iterations of Chivas USA will be built from the academy up, and not so much from drafts, trades or the plugging and playing of ballers, as has been the case this year.

NEXT UP: June 19 – Chivas USA vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, BC Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada. 7:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.


Cal State Fullerton
Club Domestic:
Chivas USA
Club Foreign:
Manchester United
Guitarist, pianist, musicologist, FIFA 13 nut & Chivas USA writer from Santa Ana, CA. Published in Orange County Register's Latino Link & Santa Ana Register sections. Prefers possession-style attack & individual technique over rapid & aerial play.