Home Stadium: Home Depot Center - Carson, California
Our next preview looks at Chivas USA, the team in MLS I can relate to most on a personal level. I have an older brother who is much more glamorous, attractive, and likable than I am, and Chivas USA have the Galaxy: their older, much more glamorous, attractive, and likable rivals in LA. That said, as the busted brother I always thought there was a bit of charm, and possibly even mystique in the underdog/younger guy.
Key Losses: Justin Braun (traded to Montreal) Paulo Nagamura (traded to Kansas City) Zarek Valentin (selected in Expansion Draft)
Major Additions: Oswaldo Minda (from SD Quito) James Riley (from Montreal) Miller Bolaños (on loan from LDU Quito)
Player to Watch: Juan Pablo Angel. Angel has had an excellent MLS career thus far, but last year was a mixed bag. He struggled to produce with the Galaxy, but a change in locker rooms saw him come to life and go on a scoring streak to close the year for Chivas. By far the biggest name on the Chivas roster, his form could very well dictate his team's fortunes.
Supporter Profile: A combination of being the smaller ticket in town and the duplication of the Chivas brand (assuming transplanting the brand/identity of an entire team to a new location can ever be done successfully) have curbed attendance. Still, the Goats have their hardcore fans, most notably Legion 1908, the fans of Big Chivas that are loyal enough to bring the ruckus in Carson (unless Mexichivas has a game on at the same time). Union Ultras and Black Army 1850 head up the MLS-centric supporters groups.
Outlook: Chivas USA had a rough year in 2011, and although they have made some solid signings in the offseason, their roster still doesn't seem good enough to push them towards the top half of the extremely competitive Western Conference. That isn't to say Chivas is completely bereft of talent. Dan Kennedy, Heath Pearce, and JPA are some of the better players in the league, and their supporting cast isn't bad, it is just seriously lacking in depth. If Oswaldo Minda can adjust to the league he may end up being the best midfielder on the team, and Miller Bolaños has boatloads of potential. Chivas is a hardworking team that was on the wrong side of quite a few close matches last season, and if they can manage games better and develop more of a killer instinct, 2012 could be a lot better than 2011 was. If they don't manage to improve, they'll always have the Chivas Girls, the original gangstas of MLS cheerleaders.