Martin Vasquez is no longer the manager of Chivas USA. New boss Robin Frasor has already put a stamp on his new club much in his own face by rebuilding a porous defense with a couple proven MLS veterans.
Bad news: SB Nation's new Chivas USA blog won't reach live status in time for MLS First Kick 2011. Good news: the SB Nation soccer main page has a resident Southern Californian on staff that keeps up with both of the league's Los Angeles clubs, and is always available and willing to provide insight for us Easteners anytime we need it.
This week I asked a few questions of Ryan Rosenblatt, North American soccer writer for the SB Nation soccer main page regarding Sporting Kansas City's season opener Saturday night against Chivas. Many thanks to Ryan for filling in for the not-yet-live blog on the Goats.
Normally in this spot, I would tell you where you can go to check out my answers to the opposing blogger's questions, but that will have to wait until next week when I swap conversation with Hot Time In Old Town's awesome writers.
1. The Chivas USA defense is completely rebuilt. They picked up former Wizard Jimmy Conrad in the re-entry draft, drafted rightback Zarek Valentin in the first round of the SuperDraft and traded for FC Dallas leftback Heath Pearce last month. How well has this talented group of players meshed this preseason, and can we expect them to live up the reputation of their names?
You can expect a very good Chivas defense. Remember, they didn't just bring in a lot of good defenders, they did so under the direction of Rob Fraser who is doing what you would expect a former defender to do. He's putting a heavy emphasis on defense and he's coaching them up. Players were talking about how much time they spent in the preseason working on communicating and moving along the back line and when you have that plus a good four along the back, well you can expect a good defense.
What will be most interesting is how Valentin is used and whether or not he's given freedom to go forward early in the season. With everyone he has next to him, they should give him that freedom to create some needed width, but they may go extra conservative in the early going. Either way, they will be tough at the back.
Hmmm, Fraser sounds a lot like a certain head coach Peter Vermes.
The rest, after the jump...
2. With the defense now addressed and seemingly for the better, Chivas went out and acquired forwards Tristan Bowen and Alejandro Moreno from Los Angeles Galaxy and Philadelphia Union, respectively. Are either of those players the answer alongside Justin Braun, who scored 9 goals in 2010?
2. It's tough to imagine Chivas having a prolific offense. They still don't have a ton of firepower in the attack, even with the additions of Bowen and Moreno. Bowen is very fast and explosive, but he's still just 20 years old and figuring out where and when to make runs. He could definitely catch a defense napping and capitalize, but if KC can be solid at the back, they should be able to put the wraps on him since he doesn't have a ton of help.
Moreno is a nice addition to any team, but Fhe needs other talent to work with and doesn't have a lot with Chivas. In a single game, Braun is good enough to win a game by himself so KC will have to be weary of him and the Chivas attack, but over the long haul, they'll need more.
3. I'm going to be honest here - I look at the list of midfielders on Chivas' roster and I recognize no more than one, maybe two names. Is there anybody in that lot that we need to keep an eye on, that might put together a surprise performance?
3. To be completely honest, no. There are a couple promising younger guys in the Chivas midfield to give them hope for the future in Blair Gavin, Ben Zemanski and Bryan de la Fuente, but none of them are ready to really take control of a match right now. The three of them are improving and can only do a decent job this weekend as part of their development, but it is unlikely they all start together and they're more of a work in progress than a finished product. Chivas is clearly building for the future and that's most evident in the midfield.