CARSON, Calif. – Howling winds swirled through the area, yet Chivas USA’s training session Monday was quieter than usual as the team took the field without manager José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá.
Chelís capitalized on his team’s bye week by visiting family in Mexico over the weekend, a team spokesman told MLSsoccer.com. Assistant Walter Fleita led the 90-minute training session, just as he did when Chelís traveled to Guadalajara in February to attend to club matters.
“Maybe it’s a little less loud on the field but, other than that, we don’t really realize it much,” defender Bobby Burling told MLSsoccer.com.
Chelís, who is often heard before he’s seen, was set to return to the Los Angeles area on Monday night. Chivas USA had a bye week after their April 7 road match against the Seattle Sounders was rescheduled for Sept. 4 to accommodate the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.
Fleita, who coached under Chelís through various stops in Mexico and was ejected from the March 17 match against the LA Galaxy for arguing with referees, declined an interview request, but the players were highly receptive of his style.
“[Chelís] has a good staff around him that picks up the pieces,” Burling said.
Chivas USA defeated Cal FC, 5-1, in a scrimmage on Friday before taking the rest of the weekend off. As a result, Monday’s workout did not include any tactical work, and was primarily made up of speed and agility drills.
Midfielder Laurent Courtois didn’t mind Chelís’ absence.
“I’m just a guy who enjoys what he’s doing every day,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “You give me a ball and I can run all day with it. You give me a weight room and I can do a lot there.”
On the eve of this season, Chelís said he missed his family and hometown of Puebla, Mexico. He admitted he did not envision staying in the United States for two years.
The Rojiblancos (3-1-1, 10 points) sit in second place in the Western Conference standings heading into the April 13 home game against the Colorado Rapids (1-3-2, 6 points).