Report: Chivas USA tab Puebla's "Chelis" as new boss
There's nothing official yet, but Mexican sports site MedioTiempo.com says that former Puebla coach José Luis Sanchez Sola – you know him as "Chelis" – is signed, sealed and delivered as the new head coach of Chivas USA.
A spokesman for the club, however, told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday that there was no news to report as of yet.
Regardless, Chelis has been on a short list of candidates being bandied about in the press on both sides of the border, and is largely considered the frontrunner. He even went on record with MedioTiempo.com, giving his views about the style of play in MLS and what, exactly, has gone wrong with Chivas USA.
"I believe that in MLS almost all the teams play the same," he reportedly said. "The champion plays the same like all the teams; it's not that you want to improvise, but I don't have the sensibility to do what they do over there. It could be good as far as points and achievements, but I don't think I have the profile to play that kind of soccer."
As for the team itself, he was even more blunt: they have no Mexican identity, and acquiring it is the way to victory.
"It doesn't have a style and it has lost its Mexican base. In the last tournament they played without Mexicans and I imagine that giving the team a Mexican base, we can get to that style of soccer that I like to play," he explained. "From there people will come on board, we'll achieve more and from there you begin to please and give something different from the soccer in that league. It's possible to achieve it and reach many objectives."
Chivas USA came into MLS with a predominantly Mexican identity, and subsequently posted one of the worst records in league history, going 4-22-6 while scoring 31 goals and conceding 67. Since that time they've drifted toward a more multi-cultural flavor, with the high point coming in 2007 when they won the Western Conference and finished second in the Supporters' Shield race.
Jorge Vergara, who is the sole owner of Chivas USA, stressed in a press conference last month that he wanted the club to get back to its roots, reconnecting with sister club Chivas de Guadalajara.
“[There was] a divorce from Chivas Mexico, not because of personal problems but that’s just how it happened,” Vergara said. “We want to convert Chivas USA into the prodigal son that now returns to Chivas Mexico, to take advantage of the 106 years of experience of Chivas Mexico.”
Chelis has been one of the more colorful characters in Mexican soccer over the last half-decade, having first taken the reins of Puebla in 2006. Under his guidance they've twice made the Liguilla semifinals, most recently in 2009. Current US national team striker Herculez Gomez featured prominently for Chelis' Puebla sides, winning his first Golden Boot with the club.
Now-former Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser was let go at the end of the season.