Chivas USA's Mauro Rosales salutes the fans
USA Today Sports

Mauro Rosales for MLS MVP? Chivas USA think he's an early candidate for 2014

CARSON, Calif. – When Mauro Rosales was acquired via trade by Chivas USA prior to the season, it was expected the veteran midfielder would help a team that's struggled offensively in recent years.

But the Argentine is meeting those expectations, and then some.

The Rojiblancos head into Saturday’s road matchup against FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live) with four points from their first two matches. Rosales has played a significant role in the early success, recording three assists to state his case as the league’s top offseason acquisition.

“It could not have worked out any better,” Chivas USA assistant coach Paul Caffrey told “Obviously, it’s in the early stages but, for me, [Rosales] would be an early MVP candidate. His off-the-field attitude and the way he’s always trying to help other players, in a sense, is almost like we got two players. We got a very experienced off-the-field player who can mentor the young guys and we got a tremendous player on the field.”

A glance at the 2013 statistical sheet puts Rosales’ early impact into proper perspective. Last year, midfielders Edgar Mejía and Jorge Villafaña – both of whom have since moved on – led the Goats with four assists apiece. Carlos Alvarez had three and no one else had more than two.

Rosales not only filled a major need in the midfield, but also has shown the playmaking abilities that should help Chivas USA be more of a threat.

“It’s all about communication and knowing where others will be when I’m on the ball,” Rosales told on Wednesday. “I have to know their movements and know who are the best finishers.”

Overall health could be considered a key component for the Rojiblancos’ chances of remaining competitive this season. Rosales is undoubtedly at the top of that priority list.

“We have to work daily and train with plenty of effort to be physically fit,” he said. “We’re trying to get better and feel better as games go by. We hope to keep growing at the midway point and getting stronger from there.”

One of the hot topics in MLS this year has been playing surface. Grass or turf? The difference hardly makes Rosales blink.

In theory, a switch to the softer, more forgiving grass surface would be a welcomed change for any player seeking longevity. But the 33-year-old, who spent three seasons with the Seattle Sounders, playing his home games on artificial turf, doesn’t anticipate much of a difference now that he’s on a natural surface full time.

“You get used to grass just as you get used to turf,” Rosales said. “It’s all mental and being able to visualize how to play. It’s about preparation and facing challenges head on – that could be a strong opponent or even the weather. Whatever it is, we have to be prepared.”