Over the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will preview each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2012 and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. This is part two of two previewing Chivas USA's 2013 season. You can find Part 1 here.
2012 record: 7-18-9 (30 points); 24 GF / 58 GA (-34 GD)
Depth Chart: 1. Dan Kennedy, 2. Tim Melia, 3. Patrick McLain
Strengths: Kennedy has been a bright spot for the Rojiblancos the last two years, becoming one of the most well respected goalkeepers in the league. New coach José Luis Sánchez Solá was impressed enough by his leadership to peg Kennedy his captain early in preseason camp.
Weaknesses: There isn’t much experience behind Kennedy. Melia made two starts last season but surrendered four goals, while McLain has yet to make his MLS debut.
Wild card: Melia may be untested, but the 26-year-old has been solid this preseason. McLain also proved himself as a viable option while Kennedy was sidelined for two weeks with a hand injury..
READ: 2013 Chivas USA Preview
Depth Chart: CB: 1. Steve Purdy, Bobby Burling, Wálter Vílchez; 2. Carlos Borja, Jorge Villafaña, Marky Delgado
Strengths: Height is not an issue for this backline. “El Chelis” noted he has never had a defense like this one, which he hopes translates into success on set pieces. Burling and Purdy are both 6-foot-4, while Borja and Vílchez measure 6-foot on the dot, giving Chivas a group that won’t be overmatched in the size department.
Weaknesses: Defensive depth is a concern given the departures of Ante Jazic, James Riley, Danny Califf and Rauwshan McKenzie. Playing with three in the back – as they've done through most of preseason – is especially risky since neither Villafaña nor Delgado is really cut out for that role. Yet Sánchez Solá remains optimistic that his aggressive philosophy will pay off though growing pains are possible.
Wildcard: Vílchez played under Chelís at Mexican side Puebla, so he’s got an advantage that might result in considerable playing time. Sánchez Solá described the ex-Peru international as “indispensable” to his squad, meaning the 30-year-old left back is already on favorable terms.
Depth Chart: LM 1. Laurent Courtois; DM 1. Oswaldo Minda; CM 1. Marvin Iraheta, 2. Carlos Alvarez; CAM: 1. Miller Bolaños; RM: 1. Eric Avila, 2. Tristan Bowen
Strengths: Chelís has been pleased with the work of his midfielders this preseason, particularly in their execution of his patented “eight seconds or less” philosophy regarding ball recovery. Avila, who was acquired in the trade involving Nick LaBrocca, has shown flashes of brilliance.
Weaknesses: LaBrocca was one of the club’s most productive players over the last two seasons, so his void is something that needs to be filled. Potential incumbent Ben Zemanski was unexpectedly traded away, further clouding a position that also lost the presence of veteran Peter Vagenas. That leaves the card-prone Minda as the only true defensive midfielder on the roster, a real danger when protecting a three-man backline.
Wild card: Bolaños enters his second MLS season with newfound confidence. In maiden voyage, the Ecuadorian led the club with 68 shots and four assists, and was second in goals with three. Chelís labeled Bolaños as “spectacular” midway through camp.
Depth Chart: 1. Juan Agudelo 2. José Correa 3. Tristan Bowen
Strengths: Agudelo looks to build off a productive offseason that included stints at both Scottish side Celtic and the USMNT camp. After arriving from the Red Bulls midseason, he scored only three goals in 20 games with the Rojiblancos last year, and Chelís certainly has big expectations for the 20-year-old striker.
Weaknesses: This is a slim group after the club decided not to bring back Juan Pablo Ángel and Alejandro Moreno. Casey Townsend, last year’s No. 5 overall selection, was traded early in preseason camp, which suggests the club is comfortable with Agudelo and Correa up front.
Wild card: Sure, Bowen is looking for his first goal since 2010, but there appears to be an opening for the 22-year-old if Agudelo’s foot injury is more serious than anticipated. He has been impressive this preseason, though his goalscoring totals suggest that wide midfield is where he belongs. Beyond him, there are a raft of trialists in camp, not to mention the ever-present chance of loans or transfers from Chivas de Guadalajara. Expect this particular part of the field to get reinforcements in the coming weeks and months.