CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA will get a visit from a familiar face when they take on the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE): former captain turned Impact head coach Jesse Marsch.
From 2006 to 2009, Marsch was the backbone for a Chivas side that made four consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs appearances and held one of the league’s best records at the time. Tenacity was Marsch’s hallmark during his time with the Goats as he led the club’s formidable defense from his position in central midfield.
Just three members of the Marsch-led Chivas team remain on the squad today: goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and defenders Ante Jazic and Jorge Villafaña. For Villafaña, who first played with Marsch at age 18, the memories and the lessons learned from his former captain still remain to this day.
“He was a very good player, he was experienced when I came in as a young player,” said Villafaña. “He was hard with the young players; he was always screaming I remember. I was scared playing with him because he was always yelling ‘run,’ but I had a good relationship with him and I’m happy to see him back now as a coach.”
The versatile left back admitted that while he may have been just a teenager he could tell that the man he described as the “heart of the team” was destined to join the coaching ranks.
“You could tell that he would be a coach because he was always talking to the guys, organizing the team and giving advice,” said Villafaña. “You could tell that he was one of those people that had it in his genes to be a coach when he retired.”
Sentimental memories aside, the Rojiblancos understand that they are in for a challenge on Wednesday against the Impact. Coming off a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake last Saturday, Chivas will face short turnaround and must play a Montreal club that completed an emotional 4-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders at the newly renovated Stade Saputo.
Although his former captain’s victory over Seattle has made the league take notice, Villafaña promises that Chivas will be up for the challenge.
“It’s 11 against 11 and we’re going to come out flying on Wednesday,” said Villafaña. “It’s our home field and we’re going to do what we can to get those three points.”