CARSON, Calif. — When midfielder Eric Avila left for Mexico with Chivas USA parent club Guadalajara last weekend, a starting role opened up on the right wing of Chivas USA’s formation. The move was significant in many ways, but it left a hole former coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá’s believed could not be filled by any other backup.
In fact, Chelís claimed on a number of occasions he didn’t have a formidable replacement on the roster for Avila.
As it turns out, Tristan Bowen might have been the answer.
“I’m playing my position, finally,” Bowen told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Sunday’s SuperClasico matchup against the LA Galaxy (11 pm ET, UniMas). “This season, when I’ve been put in the wing, I’ve done well and scored goals. The new coach [José Luis Real] put a lot of confidence in me and knows what I can do on the side.”
Bowen scored his second goal of the season early in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, tying him with Juan Agudelo for the team lead. Agudelo, of course, has been a member of the New England Revolution since early May, which sums up the type of season the Goats have had to this point.
But with a new manager in charge, Bowen has found some confidence.
“Chelís saw me as a forward, so he had an idea of how he wanted to play,” Bowen said. “As a player, I just want to play wherever the team needs me. I was out of position for most of this year and the one time Chelís put me on the wing against San Jose, I scored a goal and did well.”
Avila’s departure does create further issues for Chivas USA, who have not won an MLS match since March 30. The San Diego native ranks third on the team in assists and shots taken.
“He was an important player for our team, but we have guys that can step in and do the job, whether it’s me, Marco [Delgado] or anyone else,” Bowen said. “Avila gives us a creativity on the wing and he’s a hard worker. It’s hard to replace that, but the way the team is looking now since the coaching change, we’re creating a little bit more and the team is playing better.
"We’re keeping possession more and, with possession, we’ll have more opportunities. Hopefully we won’t miss him too much, but obviously it’s a big hit to us.”
Bowen has played in 11 games this season and has already matched his career high for goals, which he set in 2010 as a member of the Galaxy.
“Hopefully I’ll keep moving forward and keep getting better,” Bowen said.