Los Angeles Soccer: Jesse Marsch

CHIVAS: Angel delivers satisfying win

June, 20, 2012

CARSON -- Chivas USA has been stung four times this year by late goals that cost it a win or a draw, so there was great enjoyment derived Wednesday night from getting a a winner near the finish.

Juan Pablo Angel's looping, off-balance header from Jorge Villafaña's cross in the 82nd minute delivered to the Goats a 2-1 victory over expansion Montreal, prodding them to within one point of fifth place following a performance that did much to alleviate the disappointment of last weekend's loss to Real Salt Lake.

Alejandro Moreno also scored, after Juan Agudelo connected with Cesar Romero's corner kick in the 14th minute, and Chivas (5-7-3) grabbed points for the fifth time in their last six Major League Soccer encounters.

“Now that feels a little better, doesn't it,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who had to deal with a few scrambles in his box -- one immediately after Angel's goal in heavy smoke from a supporters group's celebrations behind his net -- but not a whole lot else. “That was good. Really, that game was there for the taking, and we've talked all week just about winning, and we found a way to win tonight.

“Just a class finish by Juan. That's what he is who he is: goals like that.”

The Goats were more aggressive in the final third -- their primary focus as the season nears its midpoint -- and got more from its wide play, even with lead wingers Ryan Smith out because of a concussion and Laurent Courtois on the bench.

“We've been trying to emphasize with the wide players that we need to get the ball in the box more, because at the end of the day that's where you score goals,” said Angel, who netted just his third goal of the season and his 71st in 5 1/2 MLS seasons. “And today we have a great cross by Cesar out of a corner kick and we score, and then another cross, another goal.

“I think today was a game where we probably crossed the ball more than we ever have. At the end of that day, that's what we have to do, and we have to do it consistently.”

Montreal (4-8-3) was just as good as the Goats, for the most part. Not as dangerous, perhaps, but deserving of a point after Felipe Martins beat an otherwise excellent Ben Zemanski to finish Davy Arnaud's serve just before halftime.

That answered Chivas' goal, which went to Moreno after Agudelo raced past Zarek Valentin to volley Romero's corner kick off the Goats' captain, who was squared up with a defender in the goalmouth.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS: 'The general' returns, with Impact

June, 20, 2012

Jesse MarschEric Bolte-US PresswireJesse Marsch, who spent his last four seasons in MLS with Chivas USA, returns to Carson as coach of the Montreal Impact.

CARSON -- Jesse Marsch returns Wednesday night to Home Depot Center, his home for nearly half a decade, and if it's nothing special to him -- and he says it isn't -- it is for the guys he played alongside.

Marsch, who has the Montreal Impact (4-7-3) humming along nicely for an expansion side, takes his team up against Chivas USA (4-7-3), the club he captained during its golden era under Bob Bradley and Preki, when making the playoffs were more than a dream and the deepest disappointment was failing to extend regular-season success into the postseason.

Marsch was more than the leader of the Chivas teams from 2006 to 2009: He set the Goats' standard for, well, nearly everything.

“I'm excited. I'm excited to play him,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, one of three players, with Ante Jazic and Jorge Villafaña, who remain from Marsch's tenure. “He was the man. I mean, he was really a great, great teammate. He was an incredible leader I tried to learn a lot from. He really set the bar high for my expectation of what a captain is.”

Marsch, a gritty defensive midfielder who made up for a lack of size, discernible speed and sublime ball skill with an intensity and intelligence that gave him a 14-year Major League Soccer career and prepped him for a manager's job while winning the players' respect.

His teammates adored him.

“You knew right away he'd have a successful future in the game as a coach,” said Jazic, who arrived in 2009 from the Galaxy. “Very cerebral guy and a great locker-room guy and a great person in general. ... He was a coach in the locker room, a coach on the field.”

“He was the general,” said Kennedy, who has been with the Goats since 2008. “He demanded a lot out of his teammates, and he made us better as an individual and better as a team. ... He had a very big part in turning this franchise in the right direction.”

Said Villafaña: “He was the heart of the team.”

(Read full post)

GALAXY: Some familiarity with new foe

May, 11, 2012
The Galaxy are in Quebec for their initial meeting the Montreal Impact, Major League Soccer's latest addition, and they've got a decent idea of what to expect.

Donovan Ricketts, L.A.'s main man in the nets the last three seasons, is the Impact's goalkeeper -- Bruce Arena this week proclaimed the big Jamaican the “best goalkeeper in the league” -- and all the veterans have plenty of experience battling former Kansas City captain Davy Arnaud, Chicago/Philly winger Justin Mapp and Chivas USA forward Justin Braun, among others.

Jesse Marsch
George Frey/Getty ImagesFormer Chivas USA captain Jesse Marsch is now the coach for the expansion Montreal Impact.

The most important man for Montreal also is a familiar figure.

First-year manager Jesse Marsch, the former Chivas USA captain who is trying to build a winner as quickly as he can -- and is getting good grades so far -- was a Major League Soccer rookie under Arena, played four seasons for Galaxy associate head coach Dave Sarachan, and was an assistant coach on the U.S. side that Landon Donovan led to the knockout stage in the 2010 World Cup.

“When I got to Chicago [in 2002], Jesse was part of a real core of guys who had been in the league ... a very experienced guy, a real leader,” said Sarachan, the Chicago Fire's head coach for six seasons. “He's a cerebral guy on the field. We would always say his soccer IQ was quite high, and he was one of these players who really analyzed things and really got into a deeper level of the game. I figured at some point it would translate in his career, if he decided to be a coach. He was a guy who really thought the game and analyzed and discussed a lot of what goes into building a team and being a team.”

Marsch has done a pretty good job so far in his first head job, posting a 3-1-1 mark in Montreal's last five games -- including a stunning 2-0 triumph last week at Sporting Kansas City. The Impact (3-5-2) seek a third successive victory Saturday afternoon against the Galaxy, a game that will draw in excess of 60,000 to Olympic Stadium.

Marsch, a holding midfielder who retired following the 2009 season to join mentor Bob Bradley's national team staff, spent his first MLS season, in 1997, at D.C. United under Arena, who calls him a “bright energetic guy. He's a good player, too, I think maybe even underrated as a player.”

Arena, who in 1998 sent Marsch to Chicago to join his old Princeton University coach Bradley with the expansion Fire, says he could tell even then that coaching was in his future.

“Jesse was coaching all the time,” Arena said. “I'd [wager] when Jesse got out of the hospital, two days old, he was coaching. He's opinionated, but bright. He's got all the ingredients to be a very good coach.”

ANOTHER STEP: Saturday's game is a vital encounter for L.A. (3-5-1) , which has scored just one goal in the last 321 minutes and is coming off successive shutout losses at Seattle and at home last weekend against New York.

“There's been a sense of urgency for a few weeks,” Donovan said. “Last year it seemed like a sense of urgency all year, no matter what, and I think we have to get back to that, because I think we play well when we have that.”

(Read full post)

Montreal wraps HDC stay with news

February, 17, 2012

Jesse MarschAP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham HughesNew Montreal coach Jesse Marsch, right, says despite having to trade Brian Ching he felt the veteran forward served an important purpose for his team.

CARSON -- The expansion Montreal Impact got a lot of work done in a nearly two-week stay at Home Depot Center, a good deal of it away from the field.

They finished this swing of their preseason camp Friday with 90-minute games against UCLA (a 0-0 draw) and Ventura County Fusion (a 3-1 victory), but what's been going on off the field has been far more interesting.

The Impact on Thursday traded veteran striker Brian Ching back to the Houston Impact for a conditional first-round selection in next year's SuperDraft. They topped that Friday, shortly after their games on one of Home Depot Center's training fields, by taking former U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson through the league's allocation dispersal process, then trading him to Seattle for top young attackers Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle.

It wrapped a wild week that started with Montreal's announcement that Ching, who played last week at HDC against his former Houston teammates, had departed camp for “personal reasons.” Turned out he was in Houston negotiating a new deal, one that would significantly trim his salary -- he'll make $250,000 rather than $450,000, The Houston Chronicle reported -- but allow him an expected final season with the club he's identified with as they open a long-awaited stadium.

“This is where I want to be, where I want to retire ...,” Ching told The Chronicle. “I know how old I am, and I've been around the league long enough to know my value. I have no problem. I just want this team to be successful, and I'll do what it takes. If that means less money, that means less money. Me taking less money allows me to be here where I want to be, allows me to open up a stadium that I've always dreamed of doing. That's rewarding enough for me.”

Ching, 33, considered retirement after Montreal surprisingly took him in November's expansion draft. Trade talks between the Dynamo and Montreal began almost immediately, and the Hawaii-born forward reported to the Impact's camp last month and last week said the idea of playing for Canada's third Major League Soccer franchise was “definitely growing on me. Obviously, it was a very emotional time when it all happened. But I've been with the team for about a month now and enjoy playing with the guys, enjoy the project of trying to build a competitive team here.”

Impact coach Jesse Marsch was asked if the Impact had received enough in the trade with Houston.

“I don't think it went the way we all thought it was going to go, whether he was going to stay or go. But in the end, it was just so difficult,” the former Chivas USA captain told ESPN Los Angeles. “He committed himself wholly, professionally to being here, but you also could see that his mind was still in Houston.

(Read full post)

Ching's emotions in check vs. Dynamo

February, 8, 2012
CARSON -- Brian Ching's first game against his former Houston Dynamo teammates started with a warning. His one-time (and again) nemesis Bobby Boswell told him before kickoff: “Make sure you wear your shinguards.”

Ching's response: “Are you sure I don't need a helmet?”

Brian Ching
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesBrian Ching, shown here playing for the Houston Dynamo, now plays for expansion Montreal, which played Houston in a friendly Wednesday at HDC.

That's about as emotional as it got for the Montreal Impact's veteran forward, who was forced in November to leave Houston for Major League Soccer's newest club against his (and the Dynamo's) will, and wasn't shy about saying so.

On Wednesday, some 2½ months after Montreal plucked him in the expansion draft, he took on his former 'mates in a preseason friendly on one of the training fields outside Home Depot Center's main stadium. He played the first 45 minutes, battling Boswell and fellow center back Geoff Cameron with some success but few real opportunities, then watched the Dynamo score twice in the second half for a 2-0 victory.

How weird was it for him?

“Ah, playing against the old team,” he said after the Impact's first game as an MLS club against an MLS club. “I know all those guys. I've played against them every day. I guess you could say it's a little weird, but not really, at this point.”

He said he never mistook an orange-shirted player for a teammate, that there wasn't much conversation with Boswell and Cameron, and that he knows the emotions will be far stronger when the teams meet for real June 23 in Montreal and, especially, July 21 and Oct. 6 in Houston.

“It will definitely be weird,” he says. “This is just a preseason game.”

DYNAMO ICON: Perhaps not just any preseason game. Ching, 33, had been the iconic face of the Dynamo since the old San Jose Earthquakes, whom he'd played for since 2003, up and moved to South Texas following the 2005 season. He led them for six seasons, through two MLS Cup title-winning campaigns and toward another championship-game appearance last year -- and played a key promotional role in the campaign that led to the downtown stadium that opens in May.

(Read full post)

Valentin: Montreal a 'blessing in disguise'

January, 17, 2012

Zarek ValentinAP Photo/Jason RedmondZarek Valentin, left, says leaving Chivas USA for Montreal will reunite him with some ex-teammates and one of his best friends.

CARSON -- Zarek Valentin was supposed to be Chivas USA's right back of the future -- that was the plan when the club used the fourth selection in last year's MLS SuperDraft to acquire the teenage defender.

He showed a lot of promise (and the need for plenty of growth) in his rookie season, using the ample playing time provided by Goats coach Robin Fraser to begin transitioning from his natural position, center back. He was expected to take a big step forward on Chivas' backline in 2012.

Major League Soccer's often curious, not always transparent rules got in the way of that. All his playing time apparently cost Valentin his Generation adidas status, and by “graduating” from the developmental program, his cost-free existence -- he counted neither against Chivas' roster size nor its salary cap -- was gone.

His $80,000 salary had to absorbed, and, if left unprotected, he could be taken by Montreal in last November's expansion draft.


“We're definitely disappointed to see Zarek go,” Fraser said after Montreal Impact coach Jesse Marsch, the former Chivas captain, snapped up Valentin. “He has a bright future for sure. You kind of wish expansion years didn't happen, but it's part of the league, and you're going to end up losing some players you don't want to lose. ... It's unfortunate, but it's a numbers game. I certainly wish we would not have lost him.”

Chivas' preseason camp opened in earnest Monday, with James Riley, acquired from Seattle via Montreal hours after Valentin's exit, set the take over at right back. Valentin, who will join Montreal's preparations on Feb. 1, was just a couple of hundred yards away, in the U.S. under-23 national team's preparations for the region's Olympic qualifiers.

ESPN Los Angeles spent a few minutes with Valentin over the weekend.

How long did it take to get used to the idea that you're a Montreal Impact player?

It kind of sunk in when I went up there for the jersey unveiling [on Dec. 1]. Once I got up there, I realized the fan support and got to meet some of the teammates and the coaches, and it was just kind of like, wow, this is actually changing [for me].

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Alvarez arrives via re-entry

December, 5, 2011
Chivas USA has decided to invest in veteran winger/forward Arturo Alvarez, claiming him in Monday's first-stage draft in Major League Soccer's re-entry process, even with his salary close to $200,000.

Alvarez, 26, a Texan who plays for El Salvador's national team after representing the U.S. at the youth levels, has scored 24 goals and 20 assists in 187 MLS games over nine seasons, but he's coming off an unhappy experience at Real Salt Lake, where he played in just 16 games, starting eight, in 2011.

He has started 20 games in a season just three, in 2007 at FC Dallas, in 2008 between Dallas and San Jose, and in 2009 in San Jose. He scored a career-best six goals in 2008 and five the following season.

“Arturo is a player who I've always thought had a very interesting skill set,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “He's very, very comfortable on the ball, good taking players on. The type of player who I think it is very difficult for defenders to deal with.”

Alvarez is out-of-contract, and Chivas is forced to make a “Bona Fide Offer” that is at least equal to Alvarez's 2011 salary, which was $192,585 ($201,933.50 average guaranteed compensation). The forward also is believed to be considering options in Mexico.

“I think there is a possibility that Arturo has had an eye for leaving the league for a long time ...,” Fraser said. “The word on him is thatt he's always wanting to go overseas. Hopefully, he's interested in staying. Perhaps he goes overseas and doesn't like to options available to him, in which case we have the opportunity to keep him.”

Fraser said Alvarez's price tag was not a deterrent.

“There's a negotiation to be had, no matter what,” Fraser said. “I think he's a player who can be extremely, extremely dangerous in this league and has shown he's a player who can be very dangerous creating opportunities both for himself and other people. We don't necessarily look at that number and say no way, because we do think he can be very productive.”

(Read full post)

Valentin loss has dimensions

November, 24, 2011

Seems pretty wasteful to let the No. 4 overall pick in last January's draft, an outside back with the potential to become a star (and maybe for the national team, too), slip away for nothing.

Zarek Valentin's departure from Chivas USA in Major League Soccer's expansion draft isn't so simple. And Chivas coach Robin Fraser isn't happy about it.

Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesChivas' Zarek Valentin

The Montreal Impact, which next season will debut as MLS's 19th club, on Wednesday listed Valentin No. 2 on its list of 10 players culled from the other 18 clubs after the Goats failed to include him among the 11 players they were permitted to protect.

The 20-year-old right back's fate is product of MLS's decision to “graduate” him from its Generation adidas developmental program, a decision Fraser, Chivas' head coach, called “baffling” and “extremely, extremely disappointing” -- and one that vastly changed Valentin's worth to the organization.

He's young, he's developing and in no way is he there yet -- just what the Generation adidas program is about -- and as a GA he counted nothing against Chivas' salary cap nor roster size. His change of designation means his salary, $80,000 annually (with $138,000 average guaranteed compensation), suddenly is applied against the cap.

MLS success often is about how well clubs maneuver within and around the salary cap, and the Goats also are getting a salary-cap hit from second-year midfielder Blair Gavin's GA “graduation.”

'MADE NO SENSE': “All the ramifications went into that decision” not to protect Valentin, Fraser said Thursday. “Here's a player who comes out early [following his sophomore season at the University of Akron] and is the No. 4 pick and as a GA player that has time to develop.

“It was baffling, to be quite honest. Extremely baffling. And I was extremely, extremely disappointed that he had 'graduated' from that. That's the sort of of program meant to allow players time to develop. For me, it just made no sense.”

Valentin and former Akron teammate Perry Kitchen, who had a solid rookie season on D.C. United's backline, were the only GA rookies who “graduated.” They also were the only GA rookies to exceed 2,000 regular-season minutes. Kitchen played in 31 games, 30 of them starts, and was on the field for 2,726 minutes. Valentin's numbers were 25 (with 24 starts) and 2,114.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: 3 players gone, Riley in

November, 23, 2011

CARSON -- Chivas USA played one of the bigger roles in Major League Soccer's expansion draft, surrendering three players and picking up a new right back.

First-year right back Zarek Valentin, the No. 4 overall selection in last January's MLS SuperDraft, was among 10 players the Montreal Impact claimed from rivals' rosters Wednesday, and MLS's 19th club also picked up forward/midfielder Justin Braun and midfielder Gerson Mayen in a trade.

James Riley, whom Montreal grabbed from Seattle, is coming to the Goats, along with allocation money.

The Galaxy did not lose a player in the draft.

Chivas failed to protect Valentin, 20, who “graduated” last week from the Generation adidas program, changing a designation that would have left him exempt in the expansion exercise. Clubs were permitted to protect 11 players, and Montreal -- led by manager Jesse Marsch, a former Chivas USA star -- could take no more than one player off any club's roster.

Valentin, who has enormous potential, started 24 games for Chivas as a rookie, playing in the center and on the right. He came to MLS after winning an NCAA title his sophomore year at Akron. He was listed as Montreal's second choice in the draft, following Houston Dynamo captain Brian Ching, but the order of selection is manufactured; Marsch and his staff made their choices over the two days of intense study and bargaining with clubs around the league.

That's how the Braun/Mayen-for-Riley deal was finalized. A source said Marsch wanted Braun, a former teammate, who was on Chivas' protected list, and Goats coach Robin Fraser agreed to make a deal if the Impact would draft and trade Riley, 29, one of the league's top right backs, to replace Valentin. The seven-year MLS veteran has been a consistent MLS starter sine 2006, his second season, for New England, San Jose and Seattle.

Braun, 24, played in 96 games, 72 as a starter, in four seasons with the Goats, scoring 24 goals, second on the club's all-time list. Mayen (Los Angeles/Manual Arts HS), 22, played in 20 MLS matches in four seasons for Chivas; he spent most of this season on loan to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the second-tier North American Soccer League.

Montreal also selected 6-foot-5 San Jose defender Bobby Burling, a former Loyola Marymount standout who was drafted by but did not play for the Galaxy and spent 2½ seasons with Chivas USA, and Columbus midfielder Josh Gardner, who was with the Galaxy in 2004-06.

The Impact later acquired defender Tyson Wahl (Newport Beach/Newport Harbor HS) from Seattle for allocation money.

(Read full post)

Who will the Galaxy, Chivas USA lose?

November, 22, 2011
The Montreal Impact will unveil round about noon Wednesday the list of 10 players it has claimed from the other 18 clubs in Major League Soccer's expansion draft.

The Galaxy and Chivas USA are holding their breaths.

Both have left some very fine players unprotected, and each could lose one player.

If we're Impact manager Jesse Marsch, the former Chivas USA standout, we're looking very closely at Galaxy midfielders Michael Stephens and Paolo Cardozo and forward Chad Barrett and Chivas midfielders Blair Gavin and Michael Lahoud and defender Zarek Valentin.

Here's the list of unprotected players from the local clubs:
Goalkeepers: Brian Perk.
Defenders: Sean Alvarado, Frankie Hejduk, Bryan Jordan, Leonardo, Dustin McCarty, Dasan Robinson, Ryan Thomas.
Midfielders: Chris Birchall, Paolo Cardozo, Hector Jimenez, Dan Keat, Jovan Kirovski, Michael Stephens.
Forwards: Chad Barrett, Adam Cristman, Miguel Lopez.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Arias, Zach Thornton.
Defenders: Andrew Boyens, Ante Jazic, David Junior Lopes, Mariano Trujillo, Zarek Valentin.
Midfielders: Laurent Courtois, Simon Elliott, Blair Gavin, Michael Lahoud, Gerson Mayen.
Forwards: Chukwudi Chijindu, Chris Cortez, Victor Estupiñan, Marcos Mondaini.

(Read full post)

Galaxy, Chivas leave youth exposed

November, 21, 2011
The protected lists for Major League Soccer's expansion draft are out, and the Galaxy and Chivas USA have nailed down their most influential players, leaving some rising talent dangling for the Montreal Impact.

L.A. protected 10 starting positions among its 11 slots, keeping both of its No. 1 goalkeepers (Josh Saunders and Donovan Ricketts) but leaving all three of its No. 2 forwards (Chad Barrett, Adam Cristman and Miguel Lopez) available to MLS's 19th franchise for Wednesday's selection.

Chivas' protected list includes forward Juan Pablo Angel, who broke out of a slump, scoring seven goals, after an August trade from the Galaxy, and another veteran (read: aging) forward, ESPN playoff analyst Alejandro Moreno.

The Impact, guided by former Chivas midfielder Jesse Marsch, will claim 10 players from the unprotected lists -- but not more than one from any club -- and both local clubs offer tantalizing prospects.

Especially the Goats, who have a roster full of players with potential. The biggest surprises on their unprotected list are defender Zarek Valentin, the No. 4 selection in last January's draft, coming off a typically hit-and-miss rookie campaign; midfielder Blair Gavin, a gifted second-year attacker inhibited all year by injuries; and Michael Lahoud, a versatile midfielder that Chivas coach Robin Fraser attempted to turn into a left back. Valentin and Gavin would have been exempt had they not "graduated" from the Generation adidas program.

Chivas' protected list included Paulo Nagamura, Marsch's former midfield partner, second-year midfielder Ben Zemanski, winger Jorge Flores, and midfielder Ryan Smith, acquired Monday in a trade from Sporting Kansas City.

The Galaxy protected their first-choice backline and midfield plus forward Robbie Keane, leaving several talented youngsters (including midfielders Michael Stephens and Paolo Cardozo and goalkeeper Brian Perk) available.

Choosing which names go on which list isn't simple. Montreal must consider age, salary-cap numbers, roster balance and a host of intangibles in making its selections, and with the unprotected list now in Marsch and his staff's possession, they'll be talking deals with other clubs. Several players selected in last year's expansion draft were traded away instantly in pre-draft agreements.

Below are full lists for the Galaxy and Chivas and of local players around the league. The most intriguing names on that protected list are three rookies: former Loyola Marymount winger Rafael Baca (San Jose) and former Cal State Fullerton midfielders Michael and Gabriel Farfan (Philadelphia).

(Read full post)

MLS: Jesse Marsch is Montreal's boss

August, 10, 2011

Former Chivas USA captain Jesse Marsch, who retired as a player to join mentor Bob Bradley's U.S. national team staff, has pulled a pretty plum first head-coaching gig.

Marsch, 37, who lives in Manhattan Beach, will be the Montreal Impact's head coach when it joins Major League Soccer next season, the club announced Wednesday. The Impact is playing this season in the second-tier North American Soccer League.

The former midfielder, who played for Bradley at Princeton, with the Chicago Fire and in 2006-09 with Chivas USA, joined the U.S. coaching staff following the 2009 MLS season and was on staff at last year's World Cup in South Africa.

Bradley was dismissed last month as U.S. coach and is interviewing this week for Egypt's vacant coaching post.

“It’s a great opportunity to establish something special,” Marsch, who interviewed last year with Chivas USA before Robin Fraser was hired as Goats head coach, told the Impact's website. “There are good soccer people in this organization that are committed to doing things the right way. My time in MLS and with the U.S. national team exposed me to this game at the highest level. We will be committed to the process of becoming a winning team.”

CHIVAS USA: Jimmy Conrad sees striking similarities

January, 21, 2011

Jimmy Conrad's first day on the field with his new team reminded him of 2001. That's a good thing.

The Chivas USA center back, among nearly three dozen players put through the paces as new coach Robin Fraser and his staff opened preseason training Friday with drills designed to gauge fitness, is the most prominent veteran addition to a Goats side that is reinventing itself following a last-place finish last year in the Western Conference.

Fraser has been part of such a rebuild before, on Jason Kreis' staff as Real Salt Lake transformed from Major League Soccer from doormat to champion in three years, and so has Conrad.

The defender from Temple City (Temple City HS/UCLA) was a third-year defender in San Jose a decade ago as the Earthquakes began a new era following a worst-in-the-league finish in 2000.

The Quakes had a new coach -- former pro defender Frank Yallop, who had done fine work as an assistant coach at D.C. United -- and three new veteran presences, from U.S. national team defender Jeff Agoos, winger Manny Lagos and Danish midfielder Ronnie Ekelund.

“I liken [Chivas USA today] to 2001,” said Conrad, who was acquired from Sporting Kansas City in last month's re-entry draft. “We had some older players mixed with some younger guys -- there were me, Joe Cannon, Wade Barrett, Richard Mulrooney, and we picked up Landon [Donovan] -- and then we had Agoos and [veteran defender] Troy Dayak and Ekelund and Manny Lagos.

“And we had Frank Yallop, who's very similar to Robin. For whatever reason, there just seems to be some of the same parallels.”

Reason for hope? Well, the Earthquakes won the MLS Cup title in 2001, beating the Galaxy in the final -- the first of four league championships in seven years by the Quakes/Houston Dynamo.

(Read full post)

CHIVAS USA: Jimmy Conrad is newest Goat

December, 23, 2010
A week ago, Jimmy Conrad mourned his departure from Sporting Kansas City, telling Major League Soccer's website that “finishing my career here … was always on the top of my list.”

On Thursday, he expressed a new goal: “Making [Chivas USA] as recognizable in MLS as Chivas Guadalajara is in Mexico.”

Conrad, the veteran defender from Temple City (Temple City HS) and UCLA -- and one of American soccer's great characters -- signed a two-year deal with the Goats, who grabbed him last week with the second selection in the league re-entry draft's second phase.

Conrad, 33, one of MLS's premier center backs into his 30s, spent eight years with the Kansas City Wizards, who rebranded as Sporting following the 2010 season. He'd hoped to remain in K.C. but didn't figure into the club's rebuilding project.

“I've given a big chunk of my career and life to this city and to this team,” the former U.S. national teamer (one of the few Americans to come out of the 2006 World Cup on a positive) told MLS's website last week. “To be able to say that I finished it here in front of the fans that have supported me for so long was first and foremost, and it would have been a great honor to be able to do so.”

He's a big capture for Chivas, which needs help all over the field, but especially along the backline. The four-time MLS Best XI selection (most recently: 2008) and 2005 MLS Defender of the Year figures to partner Michael Umaña in the middle of the Goats' defense when the season kicks off in March.

(Read full post)

Chivas' choice: Juan Carlos Osorio

December, 22, 2010
Chivas USA officials (majority owner Antonio Cue, primarily) made up their minds a few weeks ago on a new head coach, we're told, and plan to announce their decision after Christmas.

Former Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Ososrio is the choice, several sources (including one inside the club) have told ESPN Los Angeles, but Chivas USA has been forced to wait until the close of the Colombian season before it could make an announcement.

Osorio, a Colombian-born coach who was educated in the U.S. (and received much of his coaching education while serving as conditioning coach at Manchester City in 2001-06), last weekend won the Colombian championship with Once Caldas.

The other finalists, the sources say, were Real Salt Lake assistant coach Robin Fraser, a former star defender for the Galaxy and other clubs, and Denis Hamlett, who succeeded Osorio as head coach of the Fire.

Cue, also Chivas' president, and interim general manager Jose L. Domene were in Mexico and unavailable for comment.

Others considered for the job were former U.S. national team striker Eric Wynalda, whose staff would have included Chivas legends Ramon Ramirez and Claudio Suarez, and former Chivas USA captain Jesse Marsch, an assistant coach for the U.S. national team. Wynalda withdrew his name from consideration three weeks ago.

Osorio, who attended Southern Connecticut State University and began his coaching career with long-defunct minor-league side Staten Island Vipers in 1998, was an assistant to MetroStars coach Octavio Zambrano in 2000-01. After his time at Man City, he took charge of Colombia's Millonarios, his first head-coaching job.

He resurrected a struggling Chicago side in 2007, guiding it to a 6-3-6 record the second half of the season and into the Eastern Conference final before bolting to the Red Bulls (the rebranded MetroStars). He took New York to the 2008 MLS Cup title game, but resigned about two-thirds into a horrid 2009 campaign, stepping down with the Red Bulls 2-16-4 and without a win in more than three months.