Major League Soccer and Chivas USA have more drama in front of them after win in last-ever game (probably) in Carson

What we do know is that the 10-year era of Chivas USA in Major League Soccer is over.

It ended with a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon, which nudged Chivas into 7th place in the Western Conference standings, which means no matter what the Goats went through this year, they finished ahead of former MLS Cup winners San Jose and Colorado.

What we don’t know is what will become of Chivas USA. The club’s lease with StubHub Center expires at the end of this year, basically the same time frame MLS outlined to have the club under new ownership. With a new stadium. With a new name. With an entirely new focus on the future of a two-team Los Angeles market.

MLS has been tight-lipped on the subject and Chivas president Nelson Rodriguez, appointed by the league to run the franchise for the 2014 season, insists he can’t shed any new light on the state of the franchise.

He met the media at halftime of Sunday’s game against San Jose. He was engaging and on point. Trouble is, there apparently is no point.

“Do you expect to hear from the league when the club is sold?”
“Yes,” Rodriguez said.
“I don’t know.”

OK. Both Rodriguez and Coach Wilmer Cabrera said that they will continue to function as usual until told to do otherwise. The players, on the other hand, are left to wonder what their fate will be in any kind of dispersal draft. To a man, they acknowledge they’ve been auditioning for their MLS futures for a couple of months now.

Midfielder Eric Avila, by the way, has few concerns since he struck a deal with Santos Laguna in Mexico. Ecuadorian Felix Borja, who scored his third goal on Sunday, might be headed back to Quito. MLS holds the option rights to Erick “Cubo” Torres, who scored a club-record 15 goals this season and has earned some street cred in Mexico for scoring for El Tri in an exhibition game.

But what do you do with a cast of characters who have no idea what tomorrow, next week or next month will bring to do?

“It’s difficult, especially considering the circumstances, that it would almost be unfair to ask them to continue to train so we’ve developed off-season programs for each individual player,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll start with conducting what we call off-season meetings as early as (Monday).

“Wilmer and the coaching staff and I have been having discussions about our player pool here currently and other players that we might like to acquire. We still have the responsibility to prepare as if we’re playing next year.. We’ve had those discussions, we’ve formulated a plan, we haven’t finalized that plan because we wanted to see how the rest of the year played out.”

It’s played out. The rest is on MLS.

Now, what do you do if you’re a first-year head coach?

“Since the start of the season we were living like ‘Who’s the owner? What’s going to happen? It’s going to be no more franchise, no more team.’ That’s not easy to deal with,” Cabrera said. “When you have to deal with that every day, you get burned (out) and you have to come every day to motivate players.

“Soccer is not only running and kicking the ball, soccer is a mental game and when you have to say it’s going to be it’s fine, it’s going to be OK, let’s do our job, you have to be creative. In this case my coaching staff, I have to give every credit to them to keep all those players motivated that’s something fantastic and I really appreciate that. And obviously the president himself was unbelievable.”

At the same time, Cabrera wasn’t rushing to circle the wagons around whatever becomes of this club.

don’t know what’s going to happen with me, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be involved in this sport that I love and the things that I do best – soccer,” Cabrera said. “Today I’m more prepared than one year ago, or the beginning of the year, from this learning process that we had to go through.”

Whatever lessons were learned on that scale, it can only be hoped that MLS learned from it as well.

Wherever it leads.

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Major League Soccer Stats Watch: LA Galaxy playmaker Landon Donovan by the numbers

LDfarewellLandon Donovan has never been shy to admit he’s a numbers guy.

He knows his stats, whether it’s soccer around the world or Major League Soccer. Players, teams, goals, assists, standings, win streaks, he’s pretty tuned in with all of it.

When it comes to his own growing file of numbers, he will promptly change the subject to doing anything to help his team win. One of his favorite go-to answers is, paraphrasing, “I’d rather not score and win than score and lose.”

He’ll still put that out there in the coming weeks as the Galaxy continue their mad dash for a fifth MLS Cup, one that will signify the send-off for Donovan and his brilliant career.

But a couple of informal chats with Donovan revealed that he still has eyes on some numbers, and might have become just a little more interested in some of those he was not aware of.

“That would make a good story,” Donovan said with a twinkle in his eye.

Of course, publicly he’ll take the “When all is said and done” approach.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, Donovan has 143 MLS goals (No. 1 all-time) and 131 assists (No. 2 behind Steve Ralston’s 135). He was asked if he was aware of any other MLS player who had a career double-triple (more than 100 goals and assists) and he came up with a couple of names, but he was certain of Jaime Moreno.

Sure enough, Moreno is the only other MLS player to hit that milestone with 133 goals and 102 assists.

With his penalty-kick goal against Colorado Friday, Donovan passed Jeff Cunningham for most career game-winning goals (41). He looked a little resigned to that mark not lasting long, since San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has 34. Curiously, though, Wondo has none this season.

An obscure stat that not even Donovan was aware of is game-winning assists, and Donovan is on the verge of knocking that one out of Ralston’s hands. With four this year, Donovan has 40 in his career, one behind Ralston.

“I should have passed the ball on the PK,” Donovan joked about his goal against Colorado.

But closing in is Houston’s Brad Davis, who has 36. Davis has three this season, but he is older than Donovan and isn’t passing to Robbie Keane or Gyasi Zardes, so we’ll see.

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Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez might not play against Real Salt Lake

Omar Gonzalez suffered a twisted ankle. in the U.S. defeat to Belgium in the World Cup and might not be able to return to the field when the Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake Saturday at StubHub Center.

“It was a pretty good injury there. I’m still feeling it,” Gonzalez said. “I still don’t know if I’m up for playing against Salt Lake. I’m practicing here but pretty limited right now.”.

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Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez: Klinsmann our biggest cheerleader

GalaxyOmar Gonzalez is back to his day job as a defender for the Galaxy, but after Tuesday’s training session, he met with the media to share is experiences with the U.S. in the World Cup,

Gonzalez said the team was not affected by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s pre-tournament assertion that “We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at that level yet.”

“I tried not to pay attention too much to the media and how they can take things people say and flip them and things like that,” Gonzalez said. “Would I have liked to say, ‘Yeah we can get as far as we can.’ Maybe it could have been worded differently. I think that’s all it is.

“From inside the locker room he was nothing but supportive. He was probably our biggest cheerleader. He might have said that, but when we were interacting with each other, there was no doubt that he believed that we could do it.”

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World Cup help is on the way for Chivas USA, eventually

But will it get there fast enough?

Midfielder Oswaldo Minda played for Ecuador, which was eliminated in the groups stages of the World Cup. Midfielder Marvin Chavez played for Honduras, which suffered the same fate in Brazil.

They’re on their way back to Chivas USA, and if they arrived in time to play for in Wednesday’s game at San Jose, it would be not a moment too soon for a team that played Saturday night and plays again next Saturday.

For Chivas coach Wilmer Cabrera, you could almost see the pain of weighing what the duo just went through with their respective nations against what he needs with his own club after Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake.

“We’re waiting for them,” Cabrera said. “We need to see what kind of condition they are mentally and physically because when you finish a competition like the World Cup, you need to have a little bit of a mental break. Because of the adrenaline you have spent in that tournament, you cannot recover in three or four days.

“We’re going to try to bring them in a very good way, we’re going to try to give them a little break but obviously we need them. We need to have them, because that’s why they’re World Cup players. It’s important for them to be with us.”

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Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres making history for Chivas USA

It was the type of goal you don’t often see in Major League Soccer.

Chivas USA left back Tony Lochhead had the ball along the left sideline, lifted his head, spotted his target and sent a long, curving pass to the opposite side of the field. It might have traveled 40 yards. The only player who could play the ball was rapidly timing his approach.

Erick “Cubo” Torres never let it hit the ground. He blasted his volley from about 15 yards away into the upper right hand corner of the net.

It might be time to really start to appreciate the talent of the 21-yeard-old Torres. Chivas USA did early in the month when it locked him down for the rest of the season lest he slip through their fingers and back to Guadalajara.

“He’s got a quality you can’t teach,” Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said after the club’s 1-0 victory Saturday over Real Salt Lake. “His focus is just superb and for his age it’s hard to believe what he can come up with and pull off. The goal tonight reminded me of that bicycle kick in Vancouver last year where it’s just something out of nothing.”

In his second season with Chivas, the numbers are starting to add up for Torres, who scored seven goals in his 15 games in 2013.

This was his 15th game of 2014 and he already has 10 goals. His 17 goals all of a sudden brings him to within one of tying Maykel Galindo for No. 3 on the club’s all-time scoring list. Galindo scored his 18 in 67 games. Justin Braun scored 24 in 96 games. The leader, Ante Razov, had 30 goals in 76 games.

It was also a night when Torres became the top scorer in MLS history among players from Mexico. He passed the legendary El Tri warrior, Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

“I’m extremely happy and thrilled to have been able to score that goal,” Torres said. “I’m very happy to be able to make history in MLS. I grew up watching Cuauhtemoc play, he was one of my idols growing up. Being able to surpass him is something I cannot even imagine.”

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Landon Donovan clams up, Bruce Arena talks World Cup

GalaxyLandon Donovan has been all over television delivering his takes on the World Cup. He refused to do so with the local media on Thursday.

“I have an obligation,” he said after finishing practice with the Galaxy, which resume MLS play Saturday against San Jose at Stanford.

That didn’t sit well. His opinion is exclusive to TV viewers for a certain network? Never mind the fact that the dozens of current and former athletes in all sports who have broadcast duties are happy to share their thoughts with anyone who asks from a different platform.

It was a completely strange juxtaposition, then, to have Galaxy coach Bruce Arena happy to opine on the United States’ standing in the World Cup. The Galaxy held off their practice until 11:30 on Thursday so they could watch the Americans face off against Germany.

And give a little leeway for Donovan’s segment of Q&A.

Arena, it should be mentioned, has time and again in the past been reticent to assess the play of the U.S., not wanting to step on the toes of his successors as the national team coach.

But he didn’t mind talking about the road of the U.S. and the tournament in general as it headed into the round of 16.

“It’s good to advance. The game wasn’t particularly good,” Arena said after Germany’s 1-0 victory. “They are playing one of the better teams in the world but that’s the way the U.S. is going to play. They’re going to grind it out, get good goalkeeping, create an odd chance every now and then but they’re a battling team, they’re a fit team, they’re an organized team.”

Arena on the next U.S. challenge:

“Belgium’s certainly a good team. It’s not a bad matchup for (the U.S.). It’s a good matchup for the U.S.”

Arena, of course, was coaching when the U.S. reached the final eight in 2002 following a landmark win over Mexico. The U.S. hasn’t been that close since, but has now advanced out of the group stage in two consecutive tournaments for the first time.

“I think it’s a sign of progress,” Arena said. “I think we need to obviously improve as a team but that’s not going to happen in this World Cup. We’re one or two World Cups away from competing with the big boys.”

And surviving the “Group of Death” with Germany, Ghana and Portugal?

“It’s good. There’s one very good team in the group in Germany,” Arena said. “The others were pretty close to each other and we managed to be the team that came out in the end. Ghana was a pretty talented team. Inconsistent, obviously, going into an important game more worried about the cash being on the plane. Very odd preparation.”

“Give the U.S. credit. They persevered in a very difficult group. I thought all along that they needed to get three points against Ghana and one point against Portugal and that’s the way it played out.”

And that means what?

“I should do (prognostication) rather than coaching,” he said with a smile. “I’m better at that I think than working with this team right now.

“Believe me, I don’t think anybody could have predicted this World Cup. At the end of the day when the dust settles, the big boys are going to be around, there aren’t going to be any Cinderellas. However, I think Costa Rica may make it to the last eight.”

Sorry, Greek fans.

And Arena on the first start for Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez:

“He did a good job.”

And Donovan would rather have talked about the Galaxy against San Jose.

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Dan Kennedy and the one that got away for Chivas USA

One of the most dependable goalkeepers in MLS, Dan Kennedy had the misfortune of committing a rare miscue that led to Seattle’s first goal.

Off a Seattle free kick into the Chivas area, defender Bobby Burling headed the ball straight up and Kennedy jumped up, got both of his hands on the ball, but it slipped away and behind him.

Seattle’s Clint Dempsey got to it first and tried to direct a shot off the side of his right foot. It went off a defender and Seattle’s Lamar Neagle buried a left-footed shot to tie the game in the 25th minute.

“It was just one of those things where maybe I was a little overeager to get it,” Kennedy said. “Carlos (Bocanegra) and I had a communication where I called for it and I just mistimed it. As a goalie you know you get one thing wrong, you get punished.

“Believe me, those balls that are straight up are tricky plays and I just got it wrong.”

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Frustration boils over for Chivas USA

Without prompting, Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera threw caution to the wind in his postgame press conference after the Goats fell to Seattle, 2-1 Saturday at StubHub Center.

Cabrera did give credit to the Sounders, he did lament the mistakes Chivas made, then got to the heart of his argument with a couple of statements that will reach the MLS principal’s office.

“We’re trying to to play evenly with every team at home but we’re making some mistakes that cost us too much, so we have to improve that mentality,” Cabrera said. “And then we don’t receive the respect, and we don’t receive fair consideration from the guys that run the refereeing part. We know that.

“Even at home, it’s the second game we finish with 10 men and that’s not right. Every 50-50 foul was for the other team. They’re a very good team and they won this because they scored two goals and we only scored one, but it’s a little frustrating, those calls, those issues, that red card.

“At this point it’s fair to (say) that we feel, the players feel they don’t receive respect from the guys in yellow tonight.”

But wait, there’s more, starting with the red card Marky Delgado drew in the 73rd minute:

“Both players went for the ball (but) because Marky, a young player, Chivas USA, let’s take him out. Simple,” Cabrera said Nobody’s going to complain, nobody’s going to defend Chivas USA, nobody’s going to say anything.

“It’s easy to take advantage of us because nobody complains. That’s not right.

“Yes, we know that everyone looks at us and it’s like nothing is going to happen this team, it’s going to be (the team’s) last year, they don’t have too many fans, they don’t have power so we can do whatever we want with them,. That’s our mentality. We go into every game thinking that way. We know we cannot make any mistake and we know that every 50-50 call is going to be against us.”

Read more in the game story.

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Galaxy’s Robbie Keane on Tim Leiweke

“I think everybody is surprised. He’s been great for this club, for this league and for everything he’s done for AEG and me personally.
“He’s the one that brought me to this club so I’ve got a lot to thank him for. Everybody was shocked, as you can imagine. We’re going to certainly miss him. He’s a great character, a great guy, and we’re certainly going to miss him in that locker room after games and before games and his enthusiasm for the Galaxy and the Kings was exceptional.
“For me to come over from the UK, to bring my whole family over here, he made it so easy for myself, my family and we’re forever grateful for that. He’ll always be a great friend to me.”

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