CARSON, Calif. – Despite having to adjust to yet another new coach for the 2014 season, Chivas USA might already be in a more comfortable position with Wilmer Cabrera at the helm than they were at any point in 2013 under coaches José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá and José Luis “Guero” Real.
Unlike his predecessors, Cabrera knows the league – a fact that has resonated with players through the first two weeks of preseason camp.
“It’s been very good,” forward Erick Torres told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s transmitting his knowledge onto us. What he knows should help our team. We’re trying to learn from him and adapt to his style so we can implement that as soon as the season starts.”
Whereas Sánchez Solá showed a rah-rah personality that drew some criticism in his short stay and Real brought calmness to the bench, Cabrera might fall somewhere in the middle. He’s comfortable with the MLS style of play, which allows him to see things develop. But don’t mistake his composure for passiveness.
“I like him; he’s intense,” rookie midfielder Thomas McNamara told MLSsoccer.com. “He wants to get the best out of us and make sure we build our way up. He understands there’s going to be some mistakes early this preseason and that it takes time to get into a groove of things. He’s intense and wants us to play our best.”
Chelís was raucous – both with his voice and actions on the sideline – on his way to a 3-7-5 record before being replaced by Real, who was much more serene but posted a 3-12-6 mark to finish the season.
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Cabrera, who spent two years as an assistant with the Colorado Rapids, got a first-hand look at Chivas USA three times in 2013. The Rapids got seven points from those three matchups, so he’s fully aware of the progress the Guadalajara-based ownership expects.
In terms of style, Torres said Cabrera has tinkered with formations, but the coach’s attentiveness has made the transition seamless for players.
“The mentality, the attitude, the hard work – so far they’ve been very good,” Cabrera told MLSsoccer.com. “The response has been positive. We know it’s just two weeks of preseason and there’s a few more weeks before the first game, but so far it’s been what we were expecting from them.”