Glamor lies on the pitches of Europe for many of our finest stars. But, as pioneers like Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley have proven, those who do most of their work stateside are just — if not more important — to USMNT hopes. This is the story of the players and teams of the MLS, American soccer’s National Guard.
Here is all you need to know about CD Chivas USA: It’s a mess. The recent MLS buyback of the club from Jorge Vergara should dilute the toxic culture, but getting that much mismanagement out of the system takes time. Chivas USA has played the Clippers to the Galaxy’s Lakers as Los Angeles soccer’s second citizens for the past decade. The team has not made the playoffs in four seasons and in 2013 finished last in the Western Conference. Chivas finished eighteen points below eighth place Dallas and had a goal differential of -37. Yikes. Only a complete rebuild for DC United kept Chivas from laying claim as the league’s worst club.
And yes, it gets worse.
Chivas only drew 8,300 fans per home game in 2013, filling only 44.5% of Pizza Hut Park. No other club in the league drew less than 70% on average in 2013.
Heading into 2014, no team will receive less attention from Jürgen Klinsmann than Chivas USA. After hitting rock bottom in 2013, the club that gave us Sasha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein should be better in 2014. Chivas has added some veteran talent with international credentials, but I don’t recommend going out of your way to watch them this season.
DREAMS OF BRAZIL: Carlos Bocanegra
The former captain of the USMNT found himself in California after a combination of injuries and father time ended his European career. Bocanegra will be 35 in May, and is well off Klinsmann’s radar. It will take a miracle for the versatile defender to get a seat on the plane to Brazil, but anything is possible.
Other Names to Note: None
FUTURE GOLD CUP HEROES: Carlos Bocanegra
Chivas has a few other American born players. However none of them have ever even been called in to a training session with USMNT, let alone made a matchday squad. The best chance to see this club represented in the next three years is Bocanegra getting a send off in 2015.
Other Names to Note: Eric Avila (M)
YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN ME IN FIFA: Mauro Rosales, Right Midfielder, Argentina; Luke Moore, Forward, England; Aldolfo Bautista, Forward, Mexico
Rosales was a member of Argentine squad that won Olympic gold in 2004. Moore is a Premier League veteran who has never found a true home since leaving Aston Villa in 2008. Bautista has eleven goals in 38 caps for El Tri and made the 2010 World Cup squad. All three have had solid careers, but their best days are behind them.
Other Names to Note: Tony Lochhead (D – New Zealand), Oswaldo Minda (M – Ecuador), Augustín Pelletieri (M – Argentina)
GET READY FOR DOHA: Marco Delgado
is a lightning quick 18-year-old midfielder, who is also Chivas’ only home grown player. He’s incredibly raw, yet talented. He’s not exactly in the best situation for his development, but will see constant playing time for a squad looking to turn their fortunes around.
Other Names to Note: Andrew Jean-Baptiste (D), Bryan de la Fuente (F)
How MUCH DOES JÜRGEN CARE: .000001 out of 10