CARSON, Calif. – One of the major focuses for new Chivas USA head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá in his first MLS training camp transcends the pitch.
It has nothing to do with laying tape on the field or implementing a smothering scheme, and though the fiery 54-year-old coach has brought his aggressive style from Mexico and guided Chivas USA to an unbeaten preseason, he holds something else in higher regard.
“Everyone knows the responsibility that comes with wearing the Chivas jersey because the tradition of this club is something special,” Sánchez Solá told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Whether that’s in the United States, Mexico or Nicaragua, this is Chivas and the entire world has a desire to represent the colors.”
It’s a mindset “El Chelís” hopes all of his players carry with them. He wants them to take pride in wearing the club’s colors.
A number of players already know what that means.
Mexican midfielder Edgar Mejía, 24, was recently added to Chivas USA’s roster on loan from sister club Guadalajara along with Giovani Casillas and Mario de Luna. Mejía debuted for Chivas in Mexico’s top flight seven years ago and understands the importance of wearing the red-and-white.
“Wearing the Chivas jersey comes with great responsibility,” Mejía said. “But we have to get results. Without results, you’re basically diminishing its meaning.”
Casillas, 19, burst onto the scene two years ago in the U-17 World Cup-winning Mexican side and scored against FC Barcelona in the World Football Challenge. He might be young, but he, too, comprehends the significance of Sánchez Solá’s message.
“It’s something that is truly important to me,” said Casillas, who was born in Guadalajara. “I’m filled with joy wearing the Chivas jersey. Every Mexican wishes to wear these colors. Now that I have been given to opportunity to represent it, I must do the best possible.”
Much has been made about the club’s numerous transactions this offseason. Chelís has maintained the objective is to create an identity that appeals to the Latino fan base in Los Angeles. Jersey recognition is a big part of that process, something Mexican-American defender Carlos Borja, an Anaheim native, knows too well. Borja begins his third stint with Chivas USA after also playing for a reserve team based in Guadalajara.
“I know the tradition and I know what it means to be a part of this team,” Borja said. “You have to uphold the tradition of the team. You have to work hard. It’s a championship team, so we have to bring championships to Chivas USA.”