CARSON, Calif. – If new Chivas USA head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá had a choice, he says he would hold onto every one of the 29 preseason camp participants. If he were a club executive, he would sign them all.
It’s a realization that “El Chelís” has come to with less than a month remaining until the start of his first MLS season. His evaluations have been rather quick, but the fiery coach has seen enough to declare his pleasure.
“I don’t have anyone on trial anymore,” Sánchez Solá (above) told reporters this week. “I have to cut the line, select the final group and form a team with 30 players. If I’m left with these 29 that are here now, I’m beyond happy. I would like to keep all of them.”
The club has not disclosed when roster cuts, if any, would be made. Management might also make additions, though Sánchez Solá said he’d have no input in the process.
This much is clear: A group of 13 trialists have made such an impression that Sánchez Solá would vouch for all of them to stay.
“I don’t know if it’s been difficult," Chelís said. "I’ve had 29 pairs of ears and willing players, so that facilitates things for me. The problem is when players begin to complain. But, no, when I say frog, everyone on this team jumps.”
Sánchez Solá has emphasized the team concept through the first two weeks of camp, hoping to ignite a spark the franchise has been lacking. Following Tuesday’s scrimmage against the Chicago Fire, Chelís acknowledged his discontent with the way defender James Riley broke away from a team huddle.
“Everyone being together, that’s a team,” Sánchez Solá said. “The gospel says that if a bee escapes from the hive, let it go. Here, no one can do anything by themselves. Everyone does it for the team. It might be foolishness, but since we noticed it might not be. We do everything as a team.”
Sánchez Solá said Chivas USA have accomplished what they set out to do in the first weeks of camp, and despite lacking a big star on the roster at this point, he’s optimistic for the group’s chances when the season opens March 2 vs. Columbus.
“From what I gathered,” he said, “we have a squad that will put up a fight in this league.”