Club Deportivo Chivas USA
2007 Record: 15-7-8
Key Players: Ante Razov, Claudio Suarez, Maykel Galindo, Sasha Kljestan
Key Pickups: Alecko Eskandarian (from Real Salt Lake), Jim Curtain (from Chicago)
Key Losses: Brad Guzan (possibly to Celtic or Aston Villa)
2008 Outlook: Average
The Goats are coming off the best season in team history. Preki, voted Coach of the Year in his first year, remarkably led the team to the second-best record in the league. The list of the team’s 2007 achievements is almost too long to fit in one post: they scored the most goals in the West, allowed the second-least goals in the entire league, and perhaps most troubling for opponents, finished with an unbelievable 10-1-4 record at home during which only eight (8) goals were allowed. That is an almost unbelievable one-half goal per game average at home.
It is unclear exactly why the Goats are so tough to beat at home, but if you ask me, I think opponents may be intimidated by the team’s passionate supporters. Or, perhaps its just the Akwid deafeningly blasting over The Home Depot Center speakers. Regardless of the reason for their success, the team certainly is interested in continuing it and to that end Preki was rewarded by Chivas with a new contract last week.
Perhaps the biggest reason the team was so successful in 2007 though had nothing to do with Preki. Many observers would assert that Chivas’ success was mostly attributable to the play of keeper Brad Guzan, who emerged as one of the MLS’ premier goalies in 2007. Only allowing a paltry .93 goals per game over the courts of the season, Guzan shut out the Goat’s opponents a whopping thirteen (13) times, a league high.
Unfortunately for Chivas, Guzan may have been a little too good. Following an absolutely perfect performance for the MNT against Sweden earlier this month, the transfer rumors regarding Guzan started to fly. As of the time of this post, Celtic had offered to sign Guzan and Celtic’s manager Gordon Strachan stated that he was confident that the deal would be done before the transfer window closes. However, Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill also asserted that his team would sign Guzan, and even Premeirship giant Arsenal has expressed interest in his services.
If Guzan leaves, the million dollar question will be who replaces him. The Goat’s official roster on its website does not even have another goalie on it. Last season, the roster at the end of the season contained Justin Myers, a twenty-three (23) year old out of California, but some reports have indicated that Myers has been waived. If Chivas truly has no keeper, it could try to reacquire Preston Burpo from San Jose or perhaps trade for another team’s back-up. In any event, whoever the Goats stick between the pipes will be a downgrade from Guzan.
Also hampering the Goats is their lack of depth. Their Achilles’ Heel last year, lack of depth has plagued the Goats since their exception and it was never more evident than in their playoff losses to the Wizards last year. With Galindo slowed by an abdominal strain and without Razov, who was unavailable because of an injury, Chivas lacked any credible scoring threat and finished the playoffs without a goal, which is a shame since the Goats only allowed K.C. to score one goal in two games. Even though Chivas dominated the play, K.C. emerged as the winner and Preki and his squad were forced to deal with playoff failure despite their fine regular season run.
To succeed in 2008, the Goats will need to find a keeper quickly. In addition, they will need Kljestan, Galindo and Razov to continue to produce offensively. Though they may have difficulty matching last year’s great run, if Preki can get some depth at key positions, Chivas could be poised to make a strong playoff run.