CARSON, Calif. – Aside from winning games, finding a consistent starting lineup might be the primary objective for Chivas USA this year.
Of course, the former is usually dependent on the latter, as the Rojiblancos can attest from a dismal 2013 campaign.
The Goats used more than a dozen players in midfield last year, drawing from a roster that was in constant flux, which has made the offseason arrival of the reliable (and productive) Mauro Rosales from the Seattle Sounders all the more important.
After leading playoff-regulars Seattle with 33 appearances last season and making at least 22 starts in each of his prior three MLS campaigns, Rosales sounded excited during Tuesday’s introductory press conference while discussing the challenge of turning around a club that has finished at the bottom of the Western Conference in three of the past four seasons.
“I want to thank the staff for believing in my ability to help the team,” Rosales told reporters. “I’m here to help this team grow and improve on the last few years. We hope to remain positive and committed to having a great year. We have to stick together to have a great season.”
Rosales, who will turn 33 on Feb. 24, was acquired in a Dec. 11 trade that sent the rights to forward Tristan Bowen and the No. 2 allocation ranking to Seattle. The Goats' expectation is that they're getting a consistent contributor: Rosales led the Sounders in assists in each of the last three years, totaling 34 and 14 game-winning assists, although his assists per 90 minutes have declined from 0.63 in 2011 to 0.58 in 2012 to 0.33 in 2013.
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Still, considering that no Chivas USA player produced more than four assists last season, the trade should provide a boost for an attack that lacked punch. Rosales 34 career MLS assists are just three less than the rest of the Chivas roster combined, a total that includes eight from Carlos Bocanegra's days with the Chicago Fire.
With new head coach Wilmer Cabrera looking to incorporate more experienced players into the lineup, the 2011 MLS Newcomer of the Year and 2004 Olympic gold medalist figures to be an ironclad starter in the midfield.
“Mauro has a lot of talent,” sporting director Francisco Palencia told reporters Tuesday. “He’s a very versatile player who always gives the team some offense, but he’s also a player who sacrifices a lot for the team. He helps by bringing a lot of balance. … He has a good engine to go back and forward. He has pretty good technique that can change the game.”