BY DAVE MARTINEZ
A chance meeting with New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese at last year’s MLS Cup paved the way for Carlos Llamosa to return to New York as the Cosmos’ latest assistant coach.
“(Savarese) asked me how things were at Chivas,” the former Goat’s assistant told SBI, “and I told him they weren’t too stable. There have been a lot of changes.”
That may be the understatement of the year.
Since Jorge Vergara took full ownership of the Chivas de Guadelajara organization, turnover followed. Within short order, Chivas USA was seriously affected by the firings that became common place at their mother club. From the entire technical staff to the team’s head scout and management, a dramatic facelift overcame the struggling franchise.
Llamosa became an unlikely survivor, though that proved to be a short lived situation.
“People know that in football, players and coaches aren’t institutions in their clubs,” he said. “Those cases are rare to see players and coaches with a club 10, 20, 30 years. That is very rare.
“So since August when the team was sold to Mr Jorge Vergara, I knew there would be many changes. These changes would probably affect me as well. I was conscious of that.”
After surviving the onslaught of changes, Llamosa looked to secure his livelihood. He reached out to team President Jose David to get a clear idea of what his future may hold.
“What I told them in November with the Team President was that if I was included in those changes, let me know now because come December, I would practically be done with my work with Chivas,” he explained. “If I wasn’t in the team’s plans for 2013, let me know so I can begin to look for a move to another club. It makes it much easier for me to find a club in November or December.
“I didn’t want January to come around and they tell me ‘no more.’ By that time, clubs already have their technical staff organized. It would be very difficult for me to find a job.”
The club gave Llamosa assurance that he would indeed be a part of the team’s plans moving forward. With his current deal coming to an end, the former defender once again tried to secure his position with Chivas, this time asking for a formal contract.
“In December I had a conversation with the President of Chivas, and I told him please let me know! If I am not in your plans, there is no problem. I can leave, I understand, there are new owners,” he recounted. “No problem, but this is the time to tell me. I have a family and for me, I have to protect my family.
“He said don’t worry. We have you in our plans. I said I want a contract so I can be secure. He said yes we will give you one in January because right now things are difficult. We are organizing things in Guadalajara.”
January came, and his contract remained in limbo. Llamosa was given the responsibility of representing the club at the MLS Combine. As he recounts, the team even rented him a car for the event and told him he would have a major say in the team’s scouting efforts.
Overnight, everything changed.
“The night before the combine, when I traveled from Cali to Miami, they sent me an email telling me not to go to the combine – go to California. I found it curious. I went to Miami anyway and then traveled to LA.”
That is when his telephone bore the brunt of the bad news.
“They practically let me go by text message,” he revealed.
“The next day I went to the President’s office to tell me face to face and tell me why,” he continued. “He gave me no valid explanation. He said it was out of his hands and the decision came from Mexico. I don’t know if it was Vergara or the team’s directors. I really don’t know who made the decision. All I know is the decision was made from Mexico.
“It surprised me,” he admitted. “Not that I was let go by Chivas. Not that. What surprised me was they told me in mid-January.
“What I feared would happen, did happen, in the middle of January. They told me no more, without explanation. That is what surprised me, that is what I didn’t like – not the fact that they fired me but the way they did so.”
That is when he recalled his conversation with Savarese.
“(Savarese) told me just in case something happens, I’d like to speak to you. I told him OK,” he recalled. “When I finally left Chivas, we began speaking again about the possibility of joining the Cosmos. We spoke, I came to New York and met with him and the Cosmos COO (Erik Stover) and we came to a deal.”
For Llamosa, the signing is a happy ending to an otherwise sour end to his career at Chivas.
“The Cosmos project is big,” he noted. “They are looking for players with names, with skill and a technical staff that can manage these types of players.
“I also lived in New York, played in New York, I identify with this city like it’s my home,” he explained. “After I left Colombia, I moved to New York and lived here. My first six years in this country were in New York. It was an important part of the conversation.”
With the debacle that was Chivas behind him, Llamosa now looks to help shape the franchise he so closely followed in his childhood.
“In my profession as a coach, I try to put the same effort I put as a footballer,” he said. “The most important thing for me is to love what I do.
“In South America I know many players, managers, clubs and agents,” he explained. “In Europe as well. Here in MLS, NASL and colleges which are also important. I want to use those contacts to bring in the right players to help strengthen the Cosmos.
“I feel this Cosmos group has a great core and now we will concentrate on signing players and building a strong, competitive team.”