Los Angeles Soccer: Martin Vasquez
MANHATTAN BEACH -- No surprise that Martin Vasquez was included in Jurgen Klinsmann's staff for his first two camps as U.S. national team coach. No surprise, either, that his role will be more prominent than has been let on.
The former Chivas USA head coach will serve as Klinsmann's top assistant, the German legend acknowledged Monday, the same role he held during Klinsmann's 2008-09 tenure as Bayern Munich's manager.
“It was something in my mind already decided once I took the job that he will be my right hand ...,” Klinsmann said during a sitdown with L.A.-area soccer media. “It is definitely Martin Vasquez will play that role.”
Vasquez (Alhambra/Alhambra HS and Cal State L.A.), 47, a former midfielder who played for the U.S. and Mexican national teams, was dismissed last October after one season as Chivas' head coach after refusing to demote one of his assistants. He had been an assistant coach for the Goats from 2005 through 2008 and previously was on the Galaxy staff.
Chivas last year went 8-18-4 and finished last in Major League Soccer's Western Conference, not unexpected after the departure of the team's three foremost leaders and other key players.
Klinsmann, who has lived in Orange County since 1998, has an enduring friendship with the Mexico-born Vasquez, who played for four Mexican clubs and two in MLS during a 15-year professional playing career.
Juergen Klinsmann says he won't select his assistant coaches for some time, probably not until fall, and will use “guests” for his staff in friendlies before he does make the hires.
The new U.S. coach's guest assistants for Wednesday's game against Mexico in Philadelphia include former Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez and former U.S. national team captain Thomas Dooley, who lives in south Orange County.
Vasquez (Alhambra/Alhambra HS and Cal State L.A.), 47, who was in charge of the Goats last year, has a history with Klinsmann, working with him during his 2008-09 stint as head coach of German powerhouse Bayern Munich. The Mexican-born coach last month became director of soccer for Real Salt Lake AZ, the Major League Soccer club's academy in Casa Grande, Ariz., and at related institutions Grande Sports World and Grande Sports Academy.
Dooley, 50, has maintained a Laguna Niguel residence since he was brought into the U.S. national team's Mission Viejo residency before the 1994 World Cup. The German-born son of an American serviceman, who captained the U.S. at the 1998 World Cup, played with three Bundesliga clubs and finished his career in Major League Soccer. The National Soccer Hall of Famer was Todd Saldaña's assistant as Mission Viejo-based Pateadores last month won the U.S. Development Academy U-17/18 championship.
Klinsmann's other assistants are Tab Ramos, a Hall of Fame midfielder who played in three World Cups for the U.S. and is a respected youth coach in New Jersey, Philadelphia-based goalkeeper coach Mike Curry, and Mark Verstegen, owner and president of Athletes' Performance (which is a tenant at Home Depot Center) who worked with Klinsmann with the German national team before the 2006 World Cup.
Vasquez takes over for Greg Vanney, who departed to become an assistant coach for Robin Fraser, who succeeded Vasquez as Chivas' head coach.
“It is a great honor and a dream come true to be able to make a positive impact on the young men at the Real Salt Lake-Arizona academy, who we hope to develop into great players for Real Salt Lake, Grande Sports World and universities around the country,” Vasquez said in a statement. “I am looking forward to achieving great things both on and off the field with the academy players.”
Vasquez, who played in his native Mexico, for teams in several U.S. leagues and for the U.S. and Mexican national teams, was a Chivas USA assistant coach from 2005, the inaugural season, until taking a post in 2008 as Juergen Klinsmann's top assistant at Bayern Munich. He took charge of Chivas in December 2009 and last year guided the Goats to an 8-18-4 mark, worst in the Western Conference.
Chivas officials said he would return as head coach this year, but he was dismissed at season's end after refusing to consider reassigning one of his assistant coaches. Fraser was hired after 3½ years as Jason Kreis' top assistant coach at Real Salt Lake.
Vasquez (Alhambra/Alhambra HS and Cal State L.A.), 47, will serve as head coach and director of soccer at RSL's academy and director of soccer for Grande Sports World and Grande Sports Academy, the same jobs Vanney (UCLA) held.
Former Galaxy/Chivas midfielder Mike Muñoz (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS) has served as interim director since Vanney joined the Goats in January -- he was the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's Coach of the Year for the U-15/16 Division -- and will assist Vasquez's transition.
Chivas USA opened camp Thursday with physicals and initial meetings, and the Goats begin on-field preparations Friday morning at the Home Depot Center with a new coach and, in many ways, a new club.
Robin Fraser takes charge as the club takes stock, and he brings with him a coaching philosophy that could provide a foundation for Chivas to return to, and surpass, the glories of 2006-09.
The club was perhaps Major League Soccer's most stylish at the time, and a title run in 2007 -- with Maykel Galindo's breakthrough and Ante Razov's cerebral play up top -- would have been appropriate. Chivas has never won a playoff series.
Fraser is looking to quickly turn last year's losers into contenders. Chivas went 8-18-4 and finished last in the Western Conference after losing its veteran core of players to departures and retirement.
Here's what you need to know heading into preseason camp:
The new face of the organization is Fraser's. The first-time head coach -- a former Galaxy star lauded for his work as an assistant coach at Real Salt Lake -- and his staff (including former Galaxy and UCLA star Greg Vanney) say they have a plan in mind, a sort of total-football approach to team harmony, that will supplant the foundation that crashed last year.
The arrival of two veterans -- central defender Jimmy Conrad (Temple City/Temple City HS and UCLA), acquired in the re-entry draft, and forward Alejandro Moreno, a former Galaxy striker picked up in a trade -- will play well into Fraser's team building, bringing veteran savvy and, especially Conrad, leadership qualities that the club lacked last year.
The Goats were masterful at the draft, pulling in five genuine prospects. Defender Zarek Valentin, the No. 4 overall pick (a central defender at Akron who will move to the right for Chivas), is considered can't-miss, and fellow first-rounder Victor Estupiñan, from Ecuador, is a most enticing forward. Their ability to contribute immediately will be crucial, but both are long-range selections.
Tristan Bowen (Van Nuys), who will be 20 on Jan. 30, arrives after a promising second season with the Galaxy. Three more draftees -- midfielders Jon Okafor (Brown) and Ernesto Carranza (Sacramento State) and defender Curtis Ushedo (Alabama-Birmingham) -- will battle for roster spots. So will former Chivas USA winger Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza, who will join training as a non-roster guest.
- Newsmakers/No. 5: Maurice Edu
It might have been the biggest moment in American soccer history, the point when everything -- the quality of the soccer, the loyalty of the fans -- came together in a way it didn't or couldn't with Paul Caligiuri's “shot heard 'round the world,” the 1994 World Cup, Brandi Chastain's bra or the 2002 quarterfinal run.
The goal Maurice Edu scored but did not count for the U.S. was the tipping point for the team at the World Cup.
It's Landon Donovan's strike, the one in stoppage to beat Algeria, that will forever be remembered, but Edu's goal five days earlier against Slovenia -- and Malian referee Koman Coulibaly's decision to omit it -- was the tipping point for the U.S. and the World Cup.
The Americans had started slowly, as they did throughout the Cup, and fallen behind, 2-0, by halftime. They halved the deficit just three minutes into the second half, with Donovan finishing from Steve Cherundolo's feed, and pulled even on Michael Bradley's goal in the 82nd minute.
Then Edu, making his World Cup debut, got on the end of a perfect Donovan free kick, and the U.S. was five minutes plus stoppage from a 3-2 victory. Except Koulibaly whistled for a foul nobody else could see.
The injustice of the moment rallied the fans at home, those fervently following the World Cup and casual observers who couldn't name a U.S. player, Donovan aside, perhaps. We had been wronged, and that self-identification with this U.S. team hit a crescendo when Donovan beat Algeria to give the Americans the Group C title and send them to the knockout phase. No telling how big it might have gotten had the U.S. beaten Ghana in the round of 16.
It was a breakthrough year for the Etiwanda High School alum. He emerged as a true contributor during Rangers FC's run to its 53rd Scottish league title, cemented his spot with the U.S. national team, and made a convincing argument that he's the best partner for Bradley in central midfield.
Antonio Cue, the Goats' managing partner, doesn't disagree.
And so Cue is reaching back to the club's beginnings. He has resumed his former position as club president, a job he held until Shawn Hunter was brought aboard in September 2007, and says he he has no plans to relinquish the title.
So: One vacancy filled and two to go.
The club ostensibly had been looking for a new president since Hunter stepped down last month, and there remains openings for a head coach and, following vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton's resignation Tuesday, for a general manager on the technical side.
Hamilton, who will continue to work with the club for "the next couple months" as an adviser, said Wednesday that he had "a couple of things I'm looking at" within the soccer world and that this "seemed like the right time for me" to step down.
"For me, personally," he said, "it felt like the right time to go in a different direction."
Stephen Hamilton, Chivas USA's highest-ranking executive on the soccer side of the organization, abruptly resigned Thursday, seemingly leaving the Major League Soccer club in turmoil.
Hamilton, whose title was vice president for soccer operations, is the third major Chivas figure to step down or be fired since the club finished in October its worst season since its inaugural season. The club also is searching for a new head coach and president.
Hamilton, who attended the NCAA College Cup with Chivas USA coaches last weekend at UC Santa Barbara, was the club's chief figure in assessing and acquiring players and was working with ownership to find a replacement for Martin Vasquez, who was dismissed Oct. 27 as coach after refusing to allow one of his assistants to be reassigned within the organization. A source close to the club says there are three finalists for the post, and Hamilton had said the Goats hoped to make a decision by Christmas.
Club president Shawn Hunter resigned Nov. 2 so he could spend more time with his family, which lives in Denver.
Hamilton, who was not available for comment, will continue working with Chivas USA in an advisory role. Club adviser Jose L. Domene becomes interim general manager and will work with the committee looking to hire a head coach and prepare for next season.
Hamilton's brother, Doug, was the Galaxy's general manager in 2002-06. He died in March 2006 from a heart attack on a flight home from Costa Rica after L.A. was eliminated by Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Eric Wynalda, a former U.S. national team player, is one of the more intriguing coaching candidates for Chivas USA.
Chivas USA managing partner Antonio Cue has said he'd like to have a new head coach in place before this week is over, and whether or not the Goats meet that deadline, there no question they've got some interesting candidates.
Former Chivas midfielder Jesse Marsch, who retired after the 2009 season to join U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley's staff, has talked to club management, and The Washington Post reported Monday that former Galaxy defender Robin Fraser, an assistant coach for Real Salt Lake, has had conversations about the job.
A club source earlier this month said there were a dozen names on the team's list of candidates and that some belonged to Mexicans, hardly a surprise given Chivas' roots -- with Club Deportivo Guadalajara -- and chief owners Cue and Jorge Vergara, who are Mexican.
Perhaps the most intriguing candidate is former U.S. national team star Eric Wynalda, 41, who has two of the biggest names in Mexican soccer on his side.
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.”
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Juergen Klinsmann, a Huntington Beach resident who coached Germany in the 2006 World Cup, will be a consultant for Toronto FC.
Any conversations Chivas USA, seeking a replacement for ousted coach Martin Vasquez, might have wanted to have with Juergen Klinsmann aren't going to happen.
The Huntington Beach-based German legend has been signed on as a consultant for Toronto FC, which will use his company, SoccerSolutions, to rebuild its soccer infrastructure -- in need of an overhaul after the club's failure to reach the postseason in its first four seasons.
Klinsmann never was anything close to a frontrunner for the Chivas job, but his experience as a world-class player and high-profile coach, proximity to Carson and availablity meant he was someone the Goats, at the very least, needed to talk with.
Klinsmann starred in three World Cups and three European Championships, winning titles in each; won a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics; and played for big clubs in Germany (VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich), England (Tottenham), Italy (Inter Milan and Sampdoria) and France (AS Monaco) -- and for one small club in Orange County (the semipro Orange County Blue Star, under the pseudonym Jay Goeppingen).
He guided Germany's national team to third place at the 2006 World Cup, then spent nine months in charge of Bayern Munich -- Vasquez and Chivas USA assistant coach Nick Thesloff were on his staff -- before clashes with the club's directors, in part over American-influenced methods regarded as revolutionary by the tradition-bound club, cost him his job.
Courtesy of Chivas USA
Chivas USA president and CEO Shawn Hunter, presenting Jonathan Bornstein with an award before the team's final regular-season game, stepped down from his position Tuesday.
Chivas USA's organizational makeover continued Tuesday with club president/CEO Shawn Hunter's decision to step down. He will continue to assist the club in an advisory role.
Hunter, a respected and most approachable executive recruited three years ago from Galaxy owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, told ESPN Los Angeles that 5½ years of commuting from his Denver home to Los Angeles had prodded his decision.
"At the end of the day, with young boys -- my sons are 11 and 9 -- it became, hey, life is short," Hunter said. "I want to spend more quality time with my family. ...
"I made it back [to Denver] last week. I hadn't seen my kids for a couple of weeks. The good news is they came out for a good portion of summer, but I'm missing a lot of events -- a lot of important events -- during the school year."
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.
Chivas USA on Wednesday decided it would go in a new direction after all. Four days after club officials said Martin Vasquez would return as coach, the club decided to fire him anyway. Read more about it at this link.
The Mexico-born, Alhambra-raised former midfielder, who aside from a nine-month stint as Juergen Klinsmann’s assistant coach at Bayern Munich has been with the club since its 2005 debut, will be in charge for the next step of the Goats’ transition, says vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton.
“He’s the guy,” Hamilton said Saturday night after Chivas’ 8-17-4 season wrapped with a 4-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire. “We hired him for a reason. We believe in him. This has obviously been a tough year for everyone -- it’s a transition. …
“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. This is his first go as a head coach, so I think he’s learned a lot. And talking to him in private, the conversations we’ve had, I feel good about him, the things he wants to do going forward.”
The Goats have a steep climb after finishing last in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference and 15th of 16 teams overall, ahead of only D.C. United (6-20-4).