CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA have a new coaching staff and plenty of new players, but will there be a shakeup in leadership, too? Head coach Wilmer Cabrera has yet to announce his captain, though that’s hardly a worry for goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who wore the armband all of last year and was the club's steadiest voice amidst all the turbulence.
“That’s actually the last thing on my mind,” Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday following a 1-0 scrimmage victory against Real Salt Lake. “For me, it’s not just about making sure I’m prepared, but the team is prepared. Certainly there are a lot of guys on this squad capable of that [captain] role and I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve done in the past.”
Kennedy, who has posted three consecutive 100-save seasons, was notably vocal in the final weeks of the 2013 campaign as it became evident that management would make a number of roster moves. He was one of the players that called for more additions with MLS experience.
“We knew where we stood in the league and we needed some reinforcements,” Kennedy said. “Without a doubt, bringing in guys like [Mauro] Rosales and [Tony] Lochhead and having [Carlos] Bocanegra from the start of the season – they are going to be huge pieces for us.
"It’s good to have guys that have been through this fight before and know what to expect in a long season, making sure we improve over the nine-month season so we’re peaking at the right time and competing for a playoff spot.”
The 31-year-old Kennedy, who got married in the offseason, ranked second in MLS with 104 saves in 2013. He was pegged as captain by former coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá before José Luis “Guero” Real arrived from Guadalajara. Real immediately complained that his goalkeeper had been snubbed of an All-Star Game invitation.
This time around, there's a bit more stability in the Chivas USA camp, which bodes well following a hectic year of ins and outs.
“Last year at this point, we were still making a lot of player changes,” Kennedy said. “Instead of adding players, we were sending players out. Now we have identified the majority of the guys that will be here for the long season. It’s going to give us the ability to be prepared and ready for this tough task.”
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Kennedy called Chivas USA’s warm-up against Real Salt Lake a “first step forward” as the squad prepared to leave town for the Las Vegas Pro Soccer Challenge, followed by the two-week Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz. The Goats will likely hold a players-only meeting some time during the trip, according to the local product.
“It’s important that we come together right now, get to know one another and make sure it’s a positive environment in the locker room,” Kennedy said. “We’ll start establishing some goals on this trip and, when we come back, we’ll have a week left to prepare for our first game. Then we should be on our way.”