Chivas USA manager Jose Luis 'Chelis' Sanchez Sola has rejected the suggestion that he is actively removing non-Latino players from his squad, claiming recent transfer moves made by LA's second MLS club were motivated solely by financial and soccer reasons.
Chelis denied that he was favoring Latino players, despite trading away six non-Latino players (out of nine total departures) and acquiring Latino players with all four of his incoming transactions since taking over on Dec. 8, 2012.
Instead, Chelis claimed that the departures, which involved the likes of James Riley, Shalrie Joseph, Ben Zemanski and Casey Townsend leaving on seemingly unfavorable deals for Chivas USA, were motivated by salary cap reasons.
"No, the problem is not that one," he told Goal.com in a Spanish interview. "The case is that this team has a budget gap of more than $1 million, so we have to fix it. It is rude and even racist to talk about 'Anglos' or 'Latinos.' This team is building an identity for the 12 million fans that we can reach here in Los Angeles and that is what we are doing. Even more, that is what the league wants us to do, because if they disagree with us they wouldn't let us do it.
"All the players here are happy, just ask them."
Asked about the recent rash of departures, Chelis again cited financial motivation.
"It was a matter or budget," Sola said. "They wanted either long contracts, contract extensions or guarantees that the team can't give right now."
Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara had previously suggested that the reason Chivas USA had recently struggled in MLS - failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of its last three seasons - was the abandonment of a Latin American style of play.
"It got divorced with Chivas Mexico," Vergara said upon taking full ownership of the team in November. "Instead of using all the knowledge and all the support and all the structure from Chivas Mexico, they stopped using it.
"They tried to imitate the MLS style of play, other teams' style of playing, which is more physical because of the athletic qualities of the U.S. players. They forgot to use the technical advantage and the speed of the Mexican or Hispanic players. It became, it became nothing. We didn't play like the U.S., we didn't play like the Mexicans, we didn't play like nothing."
But Chelis rejected the idea the Vergara was dictating policy, instead insisting it was a cooperative effort.
"No, the first day I sat down with Real (José Luis) who was supposed to be the coach here, but the organization found another plan for him. He showed me the lineup and told me that was the team we has ready to work with," Sola said. "I trusted him because I know he is a well intentioned man, so I just brought in Joaquín Velásquez and Walter Vilches, and after that the president gave his input.
"There are not a lot of players that are coming from outside. Don't put up stories, it is not a matter that they create the team for me or that I do on my own way. It is a conjunction, is everybody pitching in with what it was already here."
John Rojas contributed reporting to this article
Click here to Read Goal.com Mexico's full interview with Chelis in Spanish