2013 in Review: Chivas USA endure yet another rough season filled with on- and off-field turmoil
Over the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2013 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with D.C. United and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2013 record: 6-20-8 (26 points); 30 GF / 67 GA (-37 GD)
The 2013 season began promisingly enough for Chivas USA, with fiery head coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá winning three of his first five matches and generating optimism for a club that desperately needed it. Yet the excitement was short-lived, as Sánchez Solá’s scheme fizzled and opponents easily found ways to attack an inconsistent lineup.
Captain Dan Kennedy was heroic in front of goal at times, but the offense lacked a legitimate threat following the puzzling trade of Juan Agudelo to New England. The arrival of José Luis “Guero” Real as head coach and dynamic rookie Erick “Cubo” Torres from Guadalajara, as well as the signing of veteran Carlos Bocanegra in July, provided temporary relief, but the Goats lost their final five matches to finish at the bottom of the Western Conference standings for the second consecutive year.
Best Moment of the Year
It happened relatively early in the season, but the dramatic goal rookie Carlos Alvarez scored in the waning moments of the March 17 SuperClasico was undoubtedly the bright spot for the Rojiblancos and their fans. Chivas USA were down a man when Alvarez, who had come on as a halftime substitute to make his MLS debut, found the back of the net in the 89th minute, capping a thrilling 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy.
Worst Moment of the Year
There are many possible choices here, with the trade of Agudelo, antics of Chelís and multiple blowouts being prevalent on the 2013 timeline, but the most influential loss came May 5 in Kansas City. The Goats were embarrassed, 4-0, by the eventual MLS Cup champs, and whatever momentum the first-year head coach had generated in his first two months quickly evaporated. The Rojiblancos were never the same.
The 20-year-old Torres sparked a stagnant attack upon his arrival from Mexico, and his most impressive highlight came Sept. 1 in Vancouver. He scored twice that afternoon to help Chivas USA to a 2-2 result, but his first goal off a scintillating bicycle kick from near the back of the box offered a glimpse of what he might bring to the organization for years to come.
Torres was acquired on loan from CD Guadalajara in early July and wasted no time in making a contribution for the club, scoring seven goals in his first nine MLS matches. He didn’t find the back of the net in his last six games, but the promising striker still finished the season as the team leader by a wide margin. Despite appearing in only 15 matches, Torres became the first Chivas USA player since 2011 to reach the seven-goal mark.
On May 2, Chivas USA signed Kennedy to a contract extension that should keep him with the Rojiblancos through the 2016 season. The captain has become a cornerstone of the club and the unquestioned spokesperson in the locker room. He produced on the field as well, ranking second in the league in saves with 104, oftentimes the only thing keeping the Goats in games.
“Football rewards you. If you go into a match and you grind and grind and grind for the good of the team, at the end, it rewards you. In a barrel of feces, you're grinding and grinding, you finally poke your head up to get the fresh air.” – José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá
1. Bring in players with MLS experience: 17 different players made their MLS debuts for Chivas USA this year and that lack of experience was a major problem for both Sánchez Solá (pictured right) and Real. Perhaps most notably, the Starting XI was far too fluid throughout the year, as both coaches struggled to lock down a consistent look. The Goats figure to continue the rebuilding process next year, but will definitely need more of a veteran presence.
2. A head coach with trust: El Chelís offered a bit of hope early and Real brought a more technically sound approach, but neither was the solution for Chivas USA’s problem. In fact, neither really seemed to have their sights set on the future. Sánchez Solá immediately said he would likely coach only one year in MLS, while Real never committed to being at the helm knowing the same position was open in Guadalajara. The Goats will need a manager who players know will be in it for the long haul.
3. Another offensive weapon: Torres managed to do plenty by himself during the time he spent with the Rojiblancos, but his return next year is not guaranteed. Promising forward Julio Morales was also sent back to Mexico, leaving Chivas USA without another clear-cut option up top. Scoring was a season-long issue that needs to be addressed this winter.