>Saturday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – Chivas USA

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern
Last Year: 8-18-4 28 points, 8th in West, 15th overall
Key Losses: Jonathan Bornstein, Sal Zizzo
Key Additions: Francisco Mendoza, Heath Pearce, Jimmy Conrad, Alejandro Moreno, Tristen Bowen, Victor Estupinan (that guy that said he would score 25-30 goals this season)
Projected Starting XI: This team is so bad that it’s hard for me to even come up with a projection. There are definitely not 11 quality-starting players on this team. Look for a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Bowen, Moreno, or Estupinan playing off Justin Braun (BRAUNALDINHO) up top. Braun is an adequate MLS goal scorer who should reach double digits if he has the correct service, which is a big if. Michael Lahoud, a mediocre player should be worthy of a starting spot on the right side of the midfield due to a lack of quality. The recently signed Francisco Mendoza should start on the other side. Mendoza, the only quality player from the original Chivas USA team looks to recreate the success he had early on in his MLS career as a fast paced winger. The central midfield should be composed of the always solid, if unspectacular Paul Nagamura. Nagamura flourished playing with Sacha Kljestan, but Blair Gavin is no Sacha. Gavin looks to build on a promising rookie season in which he was a first choice starter most of the time. The defense should be the strongest part of the team with the pickup of four-time MLS Best XI player Jimmy Conrad. Though Conrad is getting up there in the years, he should be solid, especially in partnering with the highly-touted rookie Zarek Valentin. Ante Jazic is one of the better left backs in the league, but that isn’t really saying much. If he was right footed he would be average at best. The trade for Heath Pearce was a coup, as he is one of the best outside backs in the league as well as the most versatile. This team has a lot of depth in terms of players that played last year; unfortunately, most of those players aren’t MLS quality. If a few of the key guys go down for this team, it could get ugly, especially if it is Justin Braun, their most important player.

Justin Braun          Tristen Bown
Francisco Mendoza          Paulo Nagamura          Blair Gavin          Michael Lahoud
Ante Jazic          Jimmy Conrad          Zarek Valentin          Heath Pearce
Zach Thornton

Prognosis: Don’t expect much from Chivas this year. In order to contend they have to actually get a solid midfield, a second goal scorer, and perhaps a better keeper, as “Snacks” Thornton may just be too old. Chivas should play some lock down defense at the back, but with a midfield that is as bad as this one is, they could end up letting in a few too many goals with bad team defense. In all this should be a rebuilding year in which new coach Robin Fraser looks to give young players such as Tristen Bowen valuable experience. Chivas seem like they are a year or two away from contending for a playoff spot.
The Intern’s Take: Although I do not think Chivas USA will make the playoffs, I think they will be slightly better than the above writer seems to believe. I am excited to watch the forward duo of Justin “J-Money” Braun and Tristan Bowen, and I think that Alejandro Moreno is an excellent addition to the team. Although he is not the most dangerous goal scorer, I liked watching him with the Union last year and at the very least will be able to bring competition to the starting forward spots along with Alan Gordon. In addition to the obvious help that the pickup of Heath Pearce brings to the defense, I think he will also be encouraged to get forward as much as possible, something he does very well. Given the doubts about the quality of the midfield, I think Pearce will be an important part of the attack and have the duty of sending as many crosses into the box as possible. Somewhat surprisingly, Heath Pearce finished second last year among FCD in total assists, trailing only David Ferreira, so he can clearly help offensively and I imagine he will be expected to play a similar role for Chivas USA this season. Zarek Valntin is an intriguing new player to watch and I am excited for him that he will have the chance to learn under Jimmy Conrad and hope that he will develop into a quality player. I like the situation that he is coming into because he should get plenty of playing time and will be part of a defense boasting three players who all have more than 20 caps for their respective national teams and Valentin should be able to learn from these experienced players. Despite not making the playoffs, I think there are some players on this team that will be fun to watch but in the end I think the team will finish somewhere in the bottom six.

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Seattle Sounders FC Team Preview
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