CARSON, Calif. – It’s a new year, which means optimism is alive and well at Chivas USA.
The Rojiblancos formally introduced new head coach Wilmer Cabrera on Tuesday afternoon alongside sporting director Francisco “Paco” Palencia and first assistant coach Paul Caffrey. Much of the discussion, as it was all of last season when two coaches combined to grab 26 points from 34 matches, centered on the hope that a new beginning brings.
“We have received the challenge and have the support from the owners, front office and Paco Palencia as the sporting director,” Cabrera told reporters. “That's the first step toward starting a project – you need support and need to be well prepared. We're going to be united. We want to be a team that will be prepared in everything we do. [On Monday] we started the right way and, with that commitment, we can change things that didn't go well last year. Little by little, we can get better results.”
Chivas USA won only six games last year – by far the lowest total in the Western Conference. The next closest team in the West – FC Dallas at 11-12-11 – had nearly twice as many victories.
The enigmatic José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá posted a 3-7-5 record before being replaced by José Luis “Guero” Real, who went 3-12-6 to finish the season. Real, in turn, left the Rojiblancos to coach sister club CD Guadalajara in Mexico at the end of November.
Cabrera, who spent the previous two years as an assistant with the Colorado Rapids, was named Chivas USA’s head coach earlier this month. He also has experience guiding US youth national teams, which was an appealing factor as the Rojiblancos continue to build depth.
“We've made many changes, and last year we talked a lot about finding a style,” Palencia told reporters. “We saw what Wilmer did with another team, and we know how he works. It's perfect. We want possession and want to be aggressive. Wilmer is also very serious and professional. We have one goal here: to be better and better every day and that's why we brought Wilmer. He fits perfectly here.”
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Caffrey was announced as Cabrera’s first assistant Tuesday.
“I'm very excited and grateful for the opportunity,” Caffrey told reporters. “… Any successful team has a very strong foundation and that will be the key. This will be a very successful project.”
The club also introduced their notable offseason acquisitions: former Mexican national team forward Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista, midfielder Mauro Rosales and defenders Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Tony Lochhead.
“What we saw last year, Chivas USA was fighting,” Cabrera said. “I was on the other side, and we saw them working hard. But they couldn't find the results or their form early. In this case, with the changes we've made, we’re looking for talent that can adapt and experienced players that know the league.”