Carson, CA – Back-to-back years of disappointing finishes for Chivas USA has given way to yet another squad overhaul during the offseason, but is this the group to bring the Goats back to the playoffs?
Chivas has made the postseason four of its seven years in Major League Soccer, highlighted by the 2007 season when the club finished first in the Western Conference. But failing to ever get past the quarterfinals in postseason play and ending the regular season in eighth place the past two years has left the club reeling.
Wholesale changes have come on a year-in, year-out basis with the Goats failing to build any semblance of continuity. Could the 2012 season finally mark the beginning of strong nucleus to carry the team into a new era?
It would not appear to be so as the Goats are constantly being compared to their noisy neighbors, the Los Angeles Galaxy. But that doesn't mean that Chivas can't achieve success relative to its own modest roster.
Chivas added two high-touted midfielders who could become breakout stars this season.
Oswaldo Minda has been one of the hottest stars in the Ecuadorian league for the past couple of seasons. He joined the Southern California club from Deportivo Quito where he won Serie A titles in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
Miller Bolanos has also signed with the Goats, but on a loan deal from LDU Quito. The 21-year-old Bolanos has shown a great deal of promise and could be a major addition if he shows maturity and adapts to the MLS style of play.
A lot of the club's success could hinge on how Minda and Bolanos mesh with current star Nick LaBrocca, and how well they can all feed Juan Pablo Angel.
LaBrocca enjoyed a breakout season with Chivas in 2011 after joining from Toronto FC. He featured in all 34 regular season games and bagged eight goals, garnering a selection to the MLS All-Star team in the process.
Angel, meanwhile, has a proven pedigree in MLS. The Colombian began the season with the Galaxy, but only nabbed three goals in 22 appearances. He really caught fire and showed his true form down the stretch when he was traded to Chivas, netting seven goals in only nine appearances. Imagine what he should be able to do with a full preseason with the club under his belt.
2011 IN REVIEW: The Goats finished the regular season in eighth place in the West with 34 points. It marked the second straight season that the club has missed out on the playoffs.
ACQUISITIONS: Miller Bolanos (M), Marvin Iraheta (M), Oswaldo Minda (M), James Riley (D), Ryan Smith (M), Casey Townsend (F), John Valencia (D).
LOSSES: Andrew Boyens (D), Justin Braun (F), Chukwudi Chujindu (F), Simon Elliott (M), Victor Estupinan (F), Gerson Mayen (M), Marcos Mondaini (F), Paulo Nagamura (M), Zach Thornton (GK), Mariano Trujillo (D), Zarek Valentin (D), Michael Umana (D).
OUTLOOK: Chivas is a club that could ultimately be hurt by the new regular season format as it will face formidable Western Conference opponents more frequently. The Goats could very well sneak into the postseason if Minda and Bolanos live up to the hype, but it is tough to expect anything more from Robin Fraser's men.