Chivas USA’s 2010 MLS season starts on Friday evening with the team hosting the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center. As the Red-and-White prepare for the club’s sixth season, here are five players to watch in the upcoming months.
1. Sacha Kljestan
Sacha Kljestan has a lot to think about at the start of the 2010 season. First, there’s the issue of whether or not he’ll be included on the U.S. roster for the World Cup in June. He’s certainly a leading candidate, but as he himself has admitted, he must have a strong first month of games in MLS if he is to lock down a spot.
Second, Kljestan will have the fortunes of Chivas USA riding on his shoulders as he prepares for his first season as team co-captain alongside fellow national teamer Jonathan Bornstein. Will the added pressure get to him, or will it be just what he needs to help him step up to the plate?
2. Jorge Flores
Jorge Flores has always been a solid player, but his abilities on the field during his initial appearances with Chivas USA were perhaps overshadowed by the incredible story of how he got into the league in the first place. But now, on the eve of his fourth year in MLS, Flores is poised to make the transition from Wunderkind to full-blown impact player. He’s been a dynamo for the Goats during preseason, and a place as the team’s starting left-midfielder looks likely.
3. Ante Jazic
With Jesse Marsch, Paulo Nagamura, Carey Talley, and Sasha Victorine all parting ways with Chivas USA during the offseason, defender Ante Jazic has become one of the club’s elder statesmen almost overnight. It’s a mantle he seems ready to bear.
He’s been in fine form during preseason and served as captain of the Canadian National Team for the first time in his career this past January. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by new Chivas USA Head Coach Martín Vásquez, who admitted he felt “lucky” to have Jazic on the roster.
4. Osael Romero
There is no doubt about Romero’s talent. He’s quick, he’s agile, and he has a nose for the net. His eight international goals for the Salvadoran National Team are certainly proof of that. The real question is, how will he handle the physical style of MLS play?
At just 5’6”, he’s the shortest player on the Chivas USA squad by two inches and an easy target for some of the league’s bigger defensive midfielders. But if his pace and nimbleness can keep him in open space, then the Red-and-White will be off and running.
5. Maykel Galindo
Cuban-born striker Maykel Galindo scored 12 goals in 2007, leading Chivas USA to the top of the Western Conference and earning himself a fourth-place finish in that year’s Golden Boot standings. Now, after two years of injuries and surgeries, Galindo looks poised to make the same impact. He seems very comfortable in Martín Vásquez’s new attack-heavy approach, scoring seven goals in preseason play, and could pose a real threat to opposing defenses this season.