Wynalda: Call in the reinforcements
the former head coach of Chivas de Guadalajara and Dutch club PSV Eindhoven - officially replaced Thomas Rongen as Chivas USA head coach on Friday.
I don't know enough about Westerhof to make any assumptions about his ability to fix this 1-8-2 team. Regardless of whether or not he is or is not the right guy, he has a lot of work to do. Let's face it: Chivas USA, despite the fact that they've announced that their goal is to make the playoffs, needs a quick fix. They need to stop the bleeding now. Maybe that fix should have happened before the season because this is not the team that was promised to Rongen in January. Their midweek performance in a 1-1 draw against Kansas City showed that they do have heart and they certainly haven't given up, but in my opinion, they're still not good enough to compete right now.
So if the goal is to fix it, I guess the next question is how? The familiar word of "reinforcements" keeps getting brought up again and again, but apart from Francisco Palencia, no names have been mentioned. In a media teleconference Friday with Chivas USA, Westerhof was asked a question regarding who will save Chivas USA and when they will arrive? He responded that no one is likely to join the team before July. So, when these players join Chivas USA -- whoever these mystery men are -- will they make the club better?
Having only scored 10 goals this season and allowed 24 goals, one could argue that they need both offense and defense. Since Chivas USA has, since Day One, announced that they will play a very attacking style and that they will not waver from that style, you would think that these reinforcements would come in the form of forwards and attacking midfielders.
A lot of people did not expect Chivas USA to be in this position, although, let's be honest, some of us were hoping for it. But the bottom line is, if you're going to say you're going to play an attacking style and you are determined to be unwavering in that endeavor, you owe it to your fans, to your players, to your organization, and most importantly, to the league, to improve. Because right now, with or without Hans Westerhof, Chivas USA are not good enough. Although the goal is to make the playoffs, this is a year where making the playoffs is more difficult than ever, where four teams -- as opposed to two -- will not play beyond their 32nd game.
As it was reported earlier this year in the L.A. Times magazine, team owner Jorge Vergara stood in front of the fans at The Home Depot Center and announced that it's Chivas USA against the gringos and Chivas USA is going to win. Obviously, this isn't a war, but so far we've seen many battles, and Mr. Vergara, you've won one of them. If this were a war, there would be one thing for sure that you will need: reinforcements.
I would also like to say one thing about Thomas Rongen, who on Monday became the quickest expansion coach to be relieved of his duties. Rongen's removal indicates one thing: Vergara and co-owner Antonio Cué don't like to lose. At the same time, I believe Thomas Rongen was in a no-win situation, and he has gladly passed the torch to his countryman, along with the responsibility and the pressure of Chivas USA. We'll see what happens.
Chivas USA's opponent Saturday (4 p.m. ET on ESPN2), the Chicago Fire, were dismantled in the offseason, losing D.J. Countess, Evan Whitfield, Orlando Perez and Andy Williams to the expansion draft, Ante Razov to a trade, Damani Ralph to an international sale and of course. So, the club has every reason to be on shaky ground. Yet, they currently sit tied for second in the East. They've simply been running hot and cold. Some days they're on fire; some days they're a book of wet matches. They win games 3-0, they lose games 3-0, and they simply can't figure out how to be consistent.
This is a game that the Chicago Fire need to win, 1) because they don't want to lose to a last-placed team, and 2) because Chivas USA fans will be in full force in Chicago. As we've seen throughout the year, in certain markets, where Chivas goes, so do their fans. The Fire, who used to be the most difficult team to beat at home, are searching to re-establish themselves as a force in the East. They are a fairly good team in a must-win situation. You would think they would get the result. However, it all comes down to who shows up Saturday afternoon. I hope it's not a book of wet matches. Prediction: 1-1.
Former U.S. international forward Eric Wynalda scored the first goal in MLS history, and is currently the analyst on RadioShack's Soccer Saturday on ESPN2. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.