Los Angeles Soccer: Carlos Juarez
A Chivas USA official confirmed Wednesday that Juarez departed in the wake of Vasquez's firing and that the team is conducting postseason training sessions under the leadership of the remaining coaching staff.
Vasquez was dismissed, managing partner Antonio Cue told ESPN Los Angeles, after he was asked to replace one of his assistant coaches, who would have been reassigned within the organization. Vasquez and Cue said no determination had been made on which coach would be reassigned, and the club official's understanding is that Juarez's name had not been mentioned in the meeting among Vasquez, Cue and Cue's brother, Lorenzo, an executive with Chivas USA LLC, the company that runs the club.
Vasquez brought Juarez, a longtime U.S. Soccer staff coach who served as the first head coach for the San Diego Spirit in the defunct Women's United Soccer Association, onto his staff last January. Juarez, a former head coach at Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona who is technical director of the Claremont Stars youth soccer club, was the instructor when Vasquez received his U.S. Soccer A license. Vasquez was an assistant coach under Juarez at Cal Poly Pomona and with the Spirit.
Stephen Hamilton, Chivas USA's director of soccer operations, has begun talking to potential head coaching candidates. There are a dozen names on the list, the club official said, and a source with knowledge of the situation said discussions have been conducted with former U.S. national team forward Eric Wynalda and former Chivas USA midfielder Jesse Marsch, who was on U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley's staff at the World Cup in South Africa. Multiple coaches on the list are based in Mexico, sources said.
As director of soccer Stephen Hamilton said following the Goats' final game, an Oct. 23 loss to Chicago at Home Depot Center: Vasquez was their guy, and the club had every intention of heading into the second year of a three-year plan with him at the helm.
Vasquez and Chivas USA managing partner Antonio Cue provided ESPN Los Angeles identical descriptions of a 3½-hour meeting two days following the Goats' season finale, one that both sides called positive and productive -- until Vasquez was told he would need to jettison one member of his staff.
The meeting -- involving Vasquez, Cue and Cue's brother, Lorenzo, an executive with Chivas USA LLC, the company that manages the club -- was a “great meeting,” Vasquez said, with discussion covering what went right and wrong in an 8-18-4, last-in-the-Western Conference campaign and the best way to improve the club.
Lorenzo Cue mentioned bringing in another assistant coach, and Vasquez, who was given his first head-coaching job by the club last December, said he “thought it was a good suggestion, a positive suggestion.”
By the end of the meeting, Vasquez said, “we had a plan of action going forward, and we felt very positive about going forward and turning this around.” Then, as the meeting was coming to an end, Vasquez was told “somebody from my staff had to go. I was not in agreement with that. I said if somebody was coming in to be part of the group, great. But losing somebody, I'm against it. Because I have a lot of confidence in my assistants, and they have all the knowledge to help us, to help Chivas USA, turn this around.”
Wednesday's dismissal by Chivas USA of Martin Vasquez isn't all that surprising except for vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton's insistence Saturday that the club's head coach definitely would return in 2011, that "the things we saw in him previously, we still see in him, and I think he’s going to benefit from a year of experience as a head coach."
Perhaps so, just not with the Goats. Looking for potential candidates? There are, at least on the surface, hundreds of them. No, thousands. Which are viable and which are not depends on how much Chivas wants to spend -- both on a coach and on players -- and how wide a net Hamilton and the club's "soccer committee" choose to cast.
THE BIG NAMES: The biggest, at least in local circles, is German legend Juergen Klinsmann, one of the premier strikers of his (or any) generation -- and an innovative coach who took an unfancied Germany side to the 2006 World Cup semifinals, ran into problems at tradition-minded Bayern Munich (where Vasquez was among his assistants) and twice broke off talks with U.S. Soccer about taking the reigns of our national team, both times over control issues.
Klinsmann lives in Huntington Beach, is between coaching jobs, and is familiar with MLS through his years in the U.S. and history with the Galaxy, for which he served as consultant during Sigi Schmid's reign. He might find the opportunity to build with Chivas most attractive: the club's anti-corporate style stands in stark contrast to their neighbors down the hall, and it wouldn't surprise us if he and President/CEO Shawn Hunter got along famously.