CARSON, Calif. -- The scoreboard might not have displayed what José Luis Sánchez Solá envisioned it would following Saturday night’s season 3-0 opening loss to the Columbus Crew, but the new Chivas USA manager made it clear he cares little for first impressions.
The outspoken coach shrugged off the result, saying now he has the first real evidence upon which to make adjustments. After all, his transition to MLS was never intended to be easy.
“We have to adapt before the next match to get points,” Sánchez Solá said. “I can’t make a prediction about how long it will take us to make adjustments. This is about the now. Our players deserve that we make changes now. I’ve got to get all of the stupidities out of my head and help my players.”
The defeat might have appeared hideous on paper, yet Chelis, as he's commonly known, remained optimistic. An even keel is a trait he seems to hold onto innately. When Chivas USA went unbeaten in seven preseason matches, Chelís never got too high. Following the final whistle on Saturday, he refused to get too low. He even applauded the waiting fans near the south end of the stadium.
Veteran players agreed with their manager that, with one match in the books, the learning must now come quickly if the club is to shed its strugglers' persona.
“I can’t say how disappointed I am. I can’t even express it,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “I came in really excited about this game and wanting to get a win or at least a result, a tie. There’s plenty of soccer to be played. Hopefully we have a quick learning curve for all of the guys that are new. Now they understand how physical and how cruel this league can be.”
Said forward Tristan Bowen: “The most important thing is to figure it out quickly and adjust.”
Chelis, who sported a full suit and stylish leather shoes, seemed every bit the swashbuckling manager he was expected to be. He started a lineup that included seven debutants, including 19-year-old Mexican midfielder Giovani Casillas -- who was one of the four players acquired on loan from sister club CD Guadalajara -- and Marvin Iraheta.
“It was a fast and strong opponent,” Casillas said. “In this league there are more collisions, the plays are through the air, and there are bigger players. But in soccer anything is possible when you put in the work.”
Said Iraheta: “It’s an exciting time because we’re working well and making progress. We obviously expect better results, but now we know we’ve got to make some improvements.”