CARSON, Calif. – Though Chivas USA players walked off the training field on Thursday with no obvious semblance of joy, two of the squad’s leaders did profess some excitement about the imminent arrival of newly appointed head coach José Luis Real (above left).
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy couldn’t gauge how big of a step back this week’s firing of José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá was for the last-place Rojiblancos (3-7-2), but suggested they will have to turn the page quickly if they hope to snap the recent skid.
“We have to move forward and [Real] is our new leader,” Kennedy told reporters. “As players, we know where we’re at and where we need to go. We’re going to lean on our new coach heavily because he’s the guy that needs to help us turn things around.”
A first glace at Real’s résumé might suggest he’ a better fit for the Goats than Chelís based on plans by the front office to integrate Chivas USA with sister club CD Guadalajara. Real is a native of Guadalajara who played for Chivas and Club Atlas in Mexico, and previously served as head coach in Guadalajara from 2009-11.
Chelís had no ties to the organization prior to his hiring in December.
“He’s a big part of this brand,” Kennedy said of Real. “I’m excited. It’s another opportunity to work with someone that has a lot more experience in this game than I do.”
There are many on-field questions remaining for the Rojiblancos: Will Real eliminate the three-man backline Chelís stood by, despite poor results? Will the reinforcements Chelís asked for finally arrive? Will the coaching change alter starting roles?
Midfielder Eric Avila said players must look within themselves for Chivas USA to make strides.
“Individually, we need to be better,” Avila said.
Real isn’t excepted to arrive in town until at least Monday, meaning Sacha van der Most, the club’s youth development director, will serve as interim coach Saturday when the Rojiblancos host the Seattle Sounders (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“He’s a very good coach,” Avila said of Real. “Learning from him will make us better. We’ll pick up where Chelís left off. He’s a coach that will help this group.”