Alvarez: The newest Goat, at least until the next ones come. - Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With the SuperDraft in the books, how do Chivas USA look now?
Chivas USA didn't pull any surprises when they selected UCONN’s Carlos Alvarez at No. 2 in the MLS SuperDraft. I don’t think there’s much to say on this topic that hasn’t already been said. I was hoping for a couple of trades, maybe to get Mikey Lopez or Jose Gomez, but those didn’t pan out. The draft went as planned for Chivas USA, and remained basically low key.
The most interesting part of the draft was during the second round when Alexi Lalas and Simon Borg transitioned into a heated discussion about what Chivas USA will do going forward. In the beginning of the broadcast, Lalas stated that he believed Chivas USA could work should they really hold true to the Mexican-American stance, and overhaul the squad with key players from Guadalajara. Of course, we know this won’t happen and we’ll probably get bench players from Mexico but it was an interesting point. The conversation with Borg, however, came about from a discussion as to how a team needs to utilize Freddy Adu. Remember those vague rumors of Adu possibly coming to Chivas USA last season? Borg emphasized that Adu is a number 10 that needs to be the key to the team – and compared our number 2 pick, Carlos Alvarez, to Adu in this regard. Chelis told Borg that he believes Alvarez to be one of the few players in the draft who can start right away, leading Borg to believe he WILL start on opening day and will be that important number 10 player we so desperately need.
The red flag for me in this conversation, however, was a statement from Borg that Chelis wants to cut $1 million in salary going forward. Hold the phone, WHAT?! We all know this team doesn’t like to spend money but cutting players?! With rumors of Dan Kennedy being shopped around, hearing this sent off alarm bells in my head. I discussed this with Alicia, who thought it would make sense to get rid of Shalrie Joseph. With Joseph gone, and Juan Pablo Angel no longer on the books, that would be roughly a million dollars cut. Problem solved? Probably not. I have a feeling this preseason will go one of two ways – we will either see a LOT of turnover in order to create that Mexican American identity, OR, the team will stay largely as is, and there will be some of the Mexican American influence. While I would prefer the latter to happen, signs are showing it could go more towards the first.
The rumors of Dan Kennedy leaving (and no one denying them) really leave a lot to be desired when it comes to how the team will move forward. He doesn't make a whole lot, salary wise ($175,000) so cutting him wouldn't make sense from that standpoint. Honestly, it's the opposite - one of the best goalkeepers in the league for that cheap? We'd be crazy to cut him if this was purely salary. Then comes the Mexican-American thing. While the rumors exist because Vergara/Chelis want a younger, Mexican keeper, it makes no sense to me to do this. Kennedy is proven in this league. The biggest problems were with the field players in front of him. You're not going to market a franchise based on a goalkeeper. Sure, he brings attention to the team and helps save their butts, but great field players will be what keeps the team going. We've seen this the past two years - the goalkeeper isn't everything. Why not bring in bigger names up top, have Kennedy to market WITH them? This of course, is logical thinking, which it seems Vergara and company are incapable of.
There are a hundred other questions marks with the team as well. We have yet to hear whether half the players from last year’s roster are still around. We know Tim Melia, Rauwshan McKenzie, and Ante Jazic had their options picked up, with Jazic reportedly saying he does not want to leave LA. Laurent Courtois has stated on twitter that he will be staying around this season. And while there have been various rumors as to whether or not Juan Agudelo will be going to Europe, Chelis replied to someone on twitter with his ideal formation for the squad, with Agudelo being a key component. I would say those players are going to stay. I also think it’s safe to say Nick LaBrocca is out, while Eric Avila will most likely be coming in (Simon Borg stated Avila WANTS to play for Chivas USA – obviously, not sure where he got this info form but ok). Juan Pablo Angel and Danny Califf are out. I HIGHLY doubt Jorge Villafana will leave. Marky Delgado will also probably still be on the team, due to his Home Grown contract (though we’ve seen New York toss theirs away easily, so who knows?). So where does that leave everyone else? I guess we will find out this weekend.
Let's bring this back to the draft. One thing is for sure. Carlos Alvarez will not go down the path of Casey Townsend. I’m not 100% sure that he is ready to be a starter on opening day. However, I do think Chelis rates him extremely high, especially for the type of soccer he wants to play. Because of this, I think we will see him factor into the team fairly early on in the season. Whether he is the key component or the "number 10" player, well, that we will just have to wait and see on. I’m finding it hard to really say how this will pan out because of the other question marks that exist. It is important to note, though, that Alvarez really wasn’t worth the second pick in the draft. Chivas USA should have played the draft better and traded down for some money – Alvarez would’ve stayed on the board had they traded for picks 6-9.
As I said in the beginning, I was hoping the team would try to get Mikey Lopez or Jose Gomez. Sporting KC selected Lopez, and I doubt they will be willing to trade. Jose Gomez, however, was not selected. He didn’t attend the Combine as he was on trial in Tijuana with Xolos. He said that he would be happy to play in MLS, but there are many questions as to whether he would pan out as a pro. However, his style of play is 100% what Chelis would want so, as Alicia stated on twitter, he better be plotting to get Gomez into camp next week.
What did you think of the SuperDraft? Do you agree with Chivas USA's pick? Where do you think they will go from here? Let us know in the comments below!