Chivas USA to call in reinforcements
CARSON, Calif. - After Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA president and co-owner Antonio Cue announced major changes were forthcoming to the club.
The first part of that was announced Monday when Cue stripped Thomas Rongen of his coaching duties and sent him upstairs. What happens next remains to be seen, but what is certain is that Chivas USA have not yet completed their changes.
Reinforcements will arrive; exactly who they are and when they will come is not yet known. The uncertainty has the current batch of Chivas USA players a bit uneasy.
"Everybody's afraid," Chivas USA striker Arturo Torres said. "Nobody's job is safe right now and everybody's worried about that. Whatever is going to make the team better, if it has to be one of us, then that's the way it is. That's the profession we're in. That's understandable."
Cue said after Saturday's game that the club had targeted some players.
Monday, he added that the new coach, whom the Los Angeles Times has reported will be former Chivas de Guadalajara boss Hans Westerhof, will have the final say in whom the club sets its sights on. Also, Cue said that the players will come from Mexico's first division and at least one will help the club's struggling offense.
Last week, Cue discussed his plans to bring in reinforcements with the players.
"When you hear that in the locker room, there's a fear and maybe fear is what we need to pick up our game," Chivas USA midfielder Francisco Gomez said. "No one here wants to lose their job. Everyone here's just got to pick it up to stay here."
Days before the Chivas USA-Galaxy match, Rongen said the club had several specific players in mind but did not go into details.
"I'm not going to speculate at this particular time because it would be too early quite frankly," Rongen said. "Nothing has been finalized. We feel it is going to happen and that we'll get high-profile names and quality players which is what this franchise needs both on and off the field. We need to get some names that people recognize and identify with to say, 'Yeah, this is really Chivas.'"
Chivas standout Francisco Palencia likely remains a target. Along with Ramon Ramirez, Palencia was one of the two original members of Chivas USA, but Palencia decided against signing with the expansion club and persuaded club officials into allowing him to stay with Chivas de Guadalajara.
"He's one of the possibilities," Rongen said. "I'm not part of the discussion at that level but he was obviously the guy that was targeted with Ramon to be here but that didn't happen. That's an ongoing conversation right now but it's too early. (Chivas) are still focusing on Copa Libertadores."
Regardless of the anticipated arrivals, players need to continue to train hard, focus and concentrate on getting points. And until reinforcements do arrive, the players currently on the roster will need to try and turn the season around for the best.
"We've got players here," Chivas USA defender Ryan Suarez said. "You've got to concentrate on the players here, not the players who are going to come, not the things that are going to happen in five years. I don't much give a (care) for five years. What I care about is now and what you're going to do with it."
At least one player said the front office needs to make roster moves for the good of the club.
"I actually feel that they should make changes with the players and not with the coach and give (Rongen) another chance with new players and see what he does," Torres said. "I just feel really bad ... because I don't think he's at fault."
Whether it is Palencia or another high-profile Mexican who joins Chivas USA, the mentality of the club still must improve.
"The product on the field needs to be better," Chivas USA right back Ezra Hendrickson said. "It doesn't matter who you bring in, if we continue to play the way we've been playing, it's going to be a long season."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story is not subject to approval by Major League Soccer or its clubs.