Vilchez: Projected to occupy an international roster slot. - USA TODAY Sports
Is it possible? Could this team actually play within the rules? (Meant for ignorant haters of the club)
Currently, Chivas USA's website lists 19 players on the roster. Given the situations of Rauwshan McKenzie and Ante Jazic, neither of whom have been with the club in the preseason, and the number goes down to 17. Officially, the Goats have brought in four players so far this season: Carlos Alvarez, Eric Avila, Steve Purdy, and Carlos Borja. All four players are native-born U.S. citizens, so there is no need to worry about their situations in regards to international slots.
With the clearout of last year's squad, and the onslaught of a whole new group of Chivas USA players, we have to re-examine the roster situation for many players. Again, with so many players coming from other countries, it seems Chivas USA may run out of room for international slots, but let's take a look at what's currently occupied and what will likely be occupied by March 1st.
First, it appears that Chivas USA have a total of 10 international slots for the 2013 season. You may recall that the team made some trades in the offseason to gain a few more, after having 8 last year, but trading one away when acquiring Bobby Burling's rights from the Montreal Impact. So, in a maximum roster of 30, Chivas can have up to 1/3 of their players in international slots.
Currently, four international roster slots are occupied, by Miller Bolaños, Jose Correa, Laurent Courtois, and Oswaldo Minda. Courtois has been in the U.S. the longest, since August 2011, and presumably none of these players have worked to obtain a green card. Given the unstable nature of Chivas USA in general, that's not necessarily surprising, but other MLS teams have utilized the green card process to move international players into domestic roster spots, and failing to act on that strategy can really put a team behind the process.
So that leaves six international roster spots open for the season. Almost certainly, Edgar Mejia, Giovani Casillas, and Mario de Luna will take up three of those, since they come from Guadalajara and have been regulars during the preseason. Walter Vilchez looks set to sign as well, so he would also take up a roster slot.
That leaves two international slots. Most of the trialists this preseason are either American-born or have grown up in the U.S., meaning they are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents: Daniel Antunez (citizen), Rodrigo Lopez (citizen), Emilio Orozco (citizen), Josue Soto (citizen).
The remaining names of players who have played in at least two preseason games are Leopoldo Morales, Jose Manuel Rivera, and Joaquin Velazquez. I believe Rivera came with the quartet from Chivas de Guadalajara, and will probably sign with the team, taking up another slot. I believe Morales has at least permanent resident status in the U.S., so Velazquez could take up the final international slot.
In other words, it looks like Chivas USA can manage to fit in their foreign players within the international slots they have stock-piled. In fact, the theoretical plurality of the squad will be Latino players with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, 13 by my count, if all of the projected trialists expected to sign contracts will. Another 10 would be international players, and the remaining five would be non-Latino U.S. citizens.
That would give the club 28 players on the roster, above the league minimum of 26, but with a bit of flexibility to add up to two players during the season without cutting anybody. Of course, Juan Pablo Ocegueda has been rumored to be on his way to Chivas USA, and expressed interest in playing for the team. Additionally, the club traded for Jonathan Bornstein's MLS rights, and unless Tigres tears up his contract (unlikely) the soonest he could return to the club would be in the summer. Obviously, neither move is a given at this point, but it does look like Chivas USA will be able to comply with basic roster standards heading into the season - assuming they bring the Guadalajara players on loan officially and make up the difference by signing players by March 1st. They may be doing it on their time, but it looks like a roster will come together very soon.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!