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Chivas USA 2006 quick hits

Chivas USA
The Home Depot Center (Capacity: 27,000)

2005 Record: 4-22-6, 18 pts. 6th in the Western Conference
GF: 31 (11th in MLS)
GA: 67 (12th in MLS)
Finish: Did not qualify for MLS Cup Playoffs.

Head Coach: Bob Bradley
Key Departures: Armando Begines, Hector Cuadros, Thiago Martins, Isaac Romo, Douglas Sequeira, Christian Jimenez
Key Additions: Jesse Marsch, Ante Razov, Jason Hernandez, Claudio Suarez, Carlos Llamosa

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

GOALKEEPER

Brad Guzan: Although Preston Burpo is pushing hard for a starting spot, the talented Guzan should start his second consecutive First Kick. This year, however, the 21-year-old will have earned it.

DEFENDERS

Jonathon Bornstein: Slight in frame, Bornstein nevertheless gives the club a strong presence on the left side. The fourth-round SuperDraft pick also gives Chivas another attacking option on that side.

Claudio Suarez: Organizing the defense will not be a problem this year so long as El Emperador is around. The longtime Mexican national team veteran gives the club a huge upgrade at its most vulnerable spot.

Carlos Llamosa: Another tried-and-true veteran, Llamosa is as strong as he has been in years. The savvy veteran gives the club yet another strong force in the back and has the strength and stamina to make it through a full season.

Lawson Vaughn: Another fullback in the Bornstein mold. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Vaughn gives Chivas a complement to Bornstein on the right side. Rough around the edges, Vaughn will learn plenty playing alongside Suarez and Llamosa.

MIDFIELDERS

Francisco Mendoza: One of the club's best revelations from 2005, Mendoza could take his game to yet another level. A much-improved supporting cast coupled with one year of MLS experience under his belt, Mendoza could be a force by season's end.

Jesse Marsch: What Suarez and Llamosa give the club in the back, Marsch provides that from the midfield. An unquestionable leader, Marsch is what the club lacked a year ago: a tough-as-nails midfielder willing to mix it up while providing a strong link from the defenders to the attackers.

Sacha Kljestan: The fifth overall pick in the SuperDraft, Kljestan has gained a defensive presence in training camp. An adept attacker, Kljestan has awesome touch and has a keen understanding with his teammates on the field.

Juan Pablo Garcia: An outstanding talent, Garcia gives the team yet another scoring option. With Ante Razov and Palencia drawing defenders, "Loquito" should have plenty of clear looks at the goal.

FORWARDS

Ante Razov: Just What the Doctor Ordered, Part 1. If anyone has shown they can score for Bob Bradley-led clubs, it's Razov. The fourth-highest goal scorer in MLS history, Razov has won three championships under Bradley and has been a valuable scoring contributor on each.

Francisco Palencia: Just What the Doctor Ordered, Part 2. Yes, Palencia was here a year ago. But with a full preseason under his belt and no distractions surrounding him, Palencia should show his true worth to the team.

OUTLOOK
It's much better than a year ago. Chivas USA will mix youth with proven veterans. If the club has a strong early showing, Chivas will contend for a playoff spot.

NEWCOMER(S) WITH THE BIGGEST IMPACT: Pick one.
Razov, Marsch, Suarez and Llamosa are valuable elements from the front to the back; alone, each one would make the team much better. Because of his experience and all-around worth, though, Marsch should stabilize the backline set the tone both physically and vocally, areas that needed improvement from a year ago.

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.