CARSON, Calif. – Jose Luis Sanchez Sola pressed his palm to his mouth and stared vacuously at the back of the press conference room. His eyes welled up.
The press conference was over. All that was left was Chelis, staring.
"What would you think about to change?" he rhetorically asked a reporter in his broken English, when pressed about how Chivas USA can improve.
Chelis is looking for answers, though he knows there are none.
After the Goats lost the first game of the season, they won four out of five, drawing the other match in that stretch. That bled immediately into the current six-game run which has produced a single point from five losses and a draw. The latest defeat came in a 4-1 beat-down by Real Salt Lake, RSL's fifth consecutive win over Chivas USA in the Home Depot Center.
"We don't have the weapons to win. This is just what we have right now," Chelis said in Spanish. "The lineup is limited, very limited."
Recently, the team traded away its top scorer, Juan Agudelo, to the New England Revolution for allocation money. According to Real Salt Lake announcer Brian Dunseth, the U.S. international left for an MLS minimum, which is $75,000.
Chelis admitted that the front office didn't inform him prior to the trade. The Mexican coach also indicated that he hasn't spoken with owner Jorge Vergara about players or transfer targets since the first day he was hired, in November. Instead, Chelis talks with Sporting President Dennis te Kloese and Director of Soccer Juan Francisco Palencia.
"They are people who know about soccer and obviously who have seen the games," Sanchez Sola said. "They need to make their own conclusions."
Sanchez Sola's conclusions are clear.
On a two-game road stint, Chivas USA lost 4-0 to Sporting Kansas City and 3-0 to the Portland Timbers. Chelis estimated that his team had five chances between the two games. Against RSL, he thought his side had 16 opportunities to score.
"Today we definitely played better, but it's not enough," Chelis said. "It's not enough for this league."
This wasn't a case of a coach throwing his players under the bus. Instead, Chelis frequently praised the endeavor of his roster. This was a coach admitting his team cannot compete in MLS.
Chivas USA is last in the Western Conference with 11 points from 11 games.
"I don't have any other players," he said. "But the players that we have do everything that they have to do right. I'm more limited myself than they are."
Vergara would have seen the deficiencies of the squad first-hand had he attended Sunday's match as scheduled. Instead, the Mexican businessman skipped the game.
Reports from Mexico continue to suggest Vergara will sell both Chivas USA and parent club Chivas de Guadalajara to Carlos Slim, the richest person in the world according to Forbes. The future of Chivas USA is in doubt.
One banner at the latest match read: "Owner of my club but not of my passion. Keep Chivas USA in LA."
Chivas USA has the worst attendance record in MLS.
MLS released a statement this week indicating that it continues to support both Vergara and Chivas USA and has no plans to move the club.
Those in Los Angeles have little say in the future of the organization. All they can do is continue performing day-to-day operations.
"We need to focus on improving every weekend," Chelis said. "This is what we have. We don't have enough to compete right now."
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