It's not that great a time to be a Chivas USA fan right now. For possibly the last time , I swapped questions and answers with Alicia Rodriguez of the Goat Parade. You really should read her work keeping up to date with the hiatus plan, which you can do here. If you're one of the people who thinks putting Chivas out of their misery would be a good thing, well I'd especially recommend this piece. Anyway, I asked about Eric Avila and Nathan Sturgis, TFC's new coaching staff (lot of Chivas connections there) and look at the past rather than the gloomy future and the good things about being a Chivas fan over the years. So Chivas USA, how you doin'?
Waking The Red: Well this is convenient timing seeing as how TFC have just announced a loooooot of coaches with Chivas USA connections. Is there anything at all you can tell us about Greg Vanney, Nick Theslof, Daniel Calichman, and Jim Liston that might give a bit of hope they'll do better here than they did at Chivas (no offence, but I'm going to lazily assume it didn't go well there, I know, I know, pot meet kettle).
The Goat Parade: I think you can spin Vanney's staff one of two ways. I think you can say the group has a lot of MLS experience, which tends to be a factor in success. And since many of them have directly worked together in the past, that should help them hit the ground running in regards to running the team. On the other hand, you can say this is some crony business and circling from one dysfunctional team to another probably isn't going to "break the cycle," as it were, for TFC.
I will say that the staff specifically were fairly well regarded at CUSA, particularly Liston and Calichman. Obviously, the latter made a lot of headlines after suing Chivas USA over his dismissal as coach, something that was settled out of court, but I think it's safe to say he's not a rabble-rouser or anything. And he helped build a very good Academy program here, so if he can bring that to the first team, then it could bode very well for Toronto. But right now, I honestly don't know what to make of Vanney "getting the band back together" at TFC.
WTR: Eric Avila to Santos Laguna? Is that going to be a thing? How has Avila done anyway in his time at Chivas? While I'm at it, how about Nathan Sturgis?
TGP: The agreement to sell Avila to Santos is in place, as confirmed by the team. It's not done-done, since something could come up before January to kill it. But assuming he's healthy and Santos haven't completely turned over their organization by next year, it looks to be a done deal. And if Chivas are perhaps not going to exist next season, then that makes it the perfect time for him to make the jump to Mexico, something that he has always said he wanted to do anyway.
Avila has been one of the better players on the team during his two seasons here. He's versatile, he's able to go at defenders on the dribble unlike just about anybody else on the team, he's played right back, he's pretty much done what's been asked of him. He's really one of the few players brought in in 2013 who actually improved the team, but too bad for him, the rest of the team around his was awful. I will say that he never got on a consistent run as far as contributing goals and assists, something the Goats badly needed, and that's pretty disappointing. But he's been a good player and has endeared himself to the fanbase.
Sturgis is a regular in the lineup, and he's had some good moments since coming over in a trade. I'm still not sure why Wilmer Cabrera traded for him, though, as he seemed to throw out the long-term potential of Carlos Alvarez to pick up Sturgis, whose ceiling on a normal (i.e. not really bad) team is probably a squad player. He has the coach's trust, and he isn't a disaster, but compared to Avila, he just seems like another player who's here for a short time, and then will be on his way (of course, in this case, they might all be on their way soon).
WTR: The team going even temporarily out of business has got to be pretty heartbreaking really, so I won't ask you to write about that again. Instead, give me your top 5 all time things about Chivas USA. On or off the pitch, things that all fans shared or more personal memories, what's made supporting Chivas over the years totally awesome?
TGP: 1. Obviously, the community. It takes a special hardened mentality to support this team, especially with the mountain of hate we see, and that's brought a lot of the supporters together. Do the supporters have disagreements between themselves? Of course, but there's still a shared purpose overall.
2. 1st Clasico vs. LA Galaxy in 2012. Chivas won! It was a scrappy game and took a PK off a penalty committed by a former CUSA player, no less, but it was a win over the rival. An oasis in a desert of results in that fixture.
3. Glory days: 2006-09. A lot of newcomers to the league don't think Chivas USA were ever good. They were. They made the playoffs four straight years, they had future USMNT coach Bob Bradley leading them for a season, and they got wins. If only we knew then that those days were not going to come back...but I suppose that's how it goes.
4. Beating the New York Red Bulls multiple times over the years: It was always fun to play them in recent years, because the Red Bulls would act like this game was going to be a piece of cake, and more often than not it turned into a shootout that the Goats won. I don't mind my team giving up two goals if they score three, and somehow, Chivas were able to do that more than once.
5. Dan Kennedy scores a goal: For obvious reasons, Kennedy is one of the most beloved Chivas USA players ever. In the 2013 U.S. Open Cup, he even scored a penalty, which turned out to be the winning goal. That was a wonderful, wonderful moment for American soccer history, really.
WTR: lineup and score prediction.
TGP: Score: TFC win 2-0
GK: Dan Kennedy
D: Akira Kaji, Bobby Burling, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tony Lochhead
M: Eric Avila, Nigel Reo-Coker, Agustin Pelletieri, Nathan Sturgis
F: Felix Borja, Ryan Finley
Thanks Alicia. Best of luck for the rest of the season and beyond. To see my answers to Alicia's questions, click here to head on over to the Goat Parade.