CARSON, CA - MAY 21: Cortez: Currently out of contract (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Wow, it's been awhile since we had a news roundup. As a result, I probably won't be exhaustive, but hit the most important stuff since our last update. Let's get started!
First, The Goat Parade wants to give special wishes to Gabe Dahl. If you have ever read this feature in the past, there was nearly always an article (sometimes more) from him, as he wrote about Chivas USA on the club's official website. But Dahl and the team recently parted ways, and as a result we wish him the best in his career. On a personal note, Gabe was always a professional who was kind to anybody who took an interest in the team, and he certainly supported the work of others as well. If you see Gabe around town or even at a match, be sure to buy him a beer or ice cream or whatever he likes!
The club finally confirmed the signing of two players earlier this week, and added a third for good measure. Defender Rauwshan McKenzie and midfielder Peter Vagenas, who we all knew had been signed but for the official word, were indeed announced as Chivas USA players for 2012. It seems the club is aware on some level of the controversy surrounding Vagenas' signing, so they shrewdly included him with the announcement with McKenzie. They also formally announced the signing of forward Cesar Romero, a move many expected the club to make but no prior announcement had taken place, so they were ahead of the curve on that one. In addition to reporting on the signings, Adam Serrano has this article on the league website about McKenzie trying to make an impact in MLS.
Over at ESPN, Scott French also has an article about McKenzie earlier this week, and Robin Fraser speaks highly of him.
In addition, Serrano has a profile on Romero, also on the league website. Here's the crazy thing: there is already a player nicknamed "Sueño" on the team. Otherwise, Romero would fit the bill, right? I know he isn't the first player to make the jump from indoor to outdoor soccer professionally, but it's not a common switch. And it depends on how much of an effect he has in games, or else a nickname isn't really necessary. The obvious nickname for him would be "The Joker" based on his namesake, but a player with that name has to show either an outsized personality or be a star. Maybe one or both could be in the cards (see what I did there?) for Romero.
French also has an article about Romero's signing on ESPN. However, the most newsworthy tidbit in the article didn't concern Romero, but the status of two players not currently under contract: Juan Pablo Angel (a saga we are all familiar with) and Chris Cortez. I wasn't aware that Cortez was unsigned, and frankly, he could be the odd man out, even if the forward corps is pretty thin. I guess it's a good sign for him that he's still in camp, but I remain rather lukewarm about him, frankly.
Over at dailybreeze.com, Nick Green has an article about the signing of Vagenas and the larger implications of the season for the club. Let's see if he can contribute to a winning side, which will probably be the key to him winning goodwill among skeptical fans.
In his recap of Chivas' 4-0 win over Loyola Marymount yesterday, French discusses trialist Matt Dallman and reports that forward Karo Okiomah's trial with Chivas was over, at least for the time being, as he had an ankle injury. Also, Kevin Guppy's still in camp, but is evidently not in the running for the 3rd goalkeeper spot.
On the international front, Jorge Villafaña has been training with the U.S. Men's National Team U23 team. He played in both scrimmages during the camp, both wins for the U23s. He started and played the first half against FC Dallas Wednesday, and it was the match that garnered headlines for Brek Shea scoring the winning goal and then getting sent off against his club team. It sounds funny, but I don't get why everybody thought it was so hilarious. Anyway, today he started in the U23s game against the San Antonio Scorpions (a new NASL team) and played 72 minutes in their 3-0 victory. Based on the past two scrimmages, he seems to be ahead of Club Tijuana's Greg Garza on the depth chart, but it will be interesting to see if he starts Wednesday when the U23s are set to take on Mexico's U23 team in Frisco, Texas, especially with Garza playing in the Mexican Primera.
I mentioned this in the match preview for the Tijuana match, but if you missed it, Tom Marshall had an article on former Chivas USA forward Bryan de la Fuente in his Gringo Report feature on the MLS website. De la Fuente recently joined Club Tijuana, and certainly you have to hope he can find a spot with them and get his career going.
One somewhat new feature I wanted to bring to your attention, if you weren't already aware, is the video series recently produced by the Black Army 1850 supporters group. They have three episodes out so far, highlighting preseason matches, and a recent fundraiser. The latest episode has clips from the Tijuana match, including an exclusive interview with coach Robin Fraser. Nice coup, BA! You can find that episode here. It's nice to see the fan side of the game, and I look forward to seeing more videos during the season.
Before Juan Pablo Angel there was Juan Pablo Garcia. Remember him? He played for the Goats during their first two seasons before heading back to Mexico, where he eventually ended up in the Liga Ascenso. He comes up because he was a part of the "What Ever Happened to..." series on the league website, with Marshall catching up with Garcia for an article earlier this week. It sounds like looking back, Garcia wishes he stayed with Chivas USA, as his career has largely gone downhill since then.
The great American soccer blog Free Beer Movement had an editorial about Chivas USA this week, following the "Goats on a plane" jersey reveal. While I certainly agree the marketing model and brand of Chivas USA is not flawless and needs considerable improvement, I do not agree with the solution proposed: to make Chivas USA an academy team of Chivas de Guadalajara. I think it's worth thinking about, along with all the other ideas, but if I wanted to follow an academy team, I would have done just that. Plus, an expectation that an academy team would be competitive in MLS is absurd, since the best youth players would just stay in Guadalajara with the first team. So the team would likely be much worse than it has been, truly a frightening thought. Plus, there's the whole thing about Chivas being a Mexican team, so why would they put a satellite squad of all Mexican youths in Los Angeles? Again, I think it's food for thought, although you can see I find this solution inadequate.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!