CARSON, Calif. – The nine-square training grid new head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá, a.k.a. Chelís, has introduced during Chivas USA’s preseason camp is inapplicable to Miller Bolaños.
And it drives Chelís absolutely crazy.
“This grid is for the players that don’t have the intuition to move into free space,” Chelís told MLSsoccer.com. “In the end, they all move to where they’re supposed to, but Bolaños always does it with intuition. Always. I have no idea how he always finds open space.”
The Goats certainly hope Bolaños can carry that same intuitiveness onto the pitch in his sophomore campaign. Last year served as a valuable learning experience for the 5-foot-7, 143-pound Ecuadorian as he transitioned to a much more physical style than what he was accustomed to. Bolaños admits he was initially taken aback by how aggressive defenders were in the United States.
“It’s a league that is very physical and the players are durable all 90 minutes,” Bolaños told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s the perspective I’ve gained. I’ve learned that already so it won’t be a surprise during matches anymore.”
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder had three goals and four assists in 24 games last season. He has a team-high five goals in four matches this preseason, an indication that he might be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the club’s coaching change.
“Ever since I started working with the new coach, he has me up front as an attacking midfielder,” Bolaños said. “That’s very important to me. ... We have a more Latin game. That’s important here. We’ve got to work hard and give it our all so everything leads to a championship.”
Forward Juan Agudelo figures to be the key scoring threat up front, but supporting roles have yet to be solidified. Chelís, though, is undoubtedly ecstatic about the explosiveness Bolaños has shown in camp.
“Bolaños is spectacular,” the veteran Mexican coach said. “He’s wilder than I am. He plays soccer with intuition. ... He’s very quick and has a nose for goals.”
With a new coach and greater understanding of MLS, Bolaños has set lofty goals for 2013.
“From the start, coach told he wants me making plays up front,” he said. “Whenever I gain possession, I need to look for goal. That’s going to help my professional career a whole lot and hopefully I can demonstrate why I’m here. ... I expect to score many goals but also will give myself to the team. God willing, we’ll reach the playoffs.”