Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
During Chivas USA's time in MLS, the club has been renown throughout the league for its stingy defense.
As the club transitions under first year Head Coach Martin Vasquez from a club based on defensive play to one that seeks to win games through attacking prowess, Vasquez has sought out defenders to maintain the club's impressive defense.
Enter Costa Rican Internationals Michael Umaña and Dario Delgado, a pair of new central defenders the Rojiblancos are counting on to maintain tradition of tough defending.
The club's Costa Rican connection was created when the club signed Delgado on loan from Costa Rican club Puntarenas to pair with off-season signing of Umaña. Delgado had been training with the club a week and a half prior to signing with Chivas and the 24 year old wasted little time getting on the field as he was immediately slotted into the starting line up for the club's match against the New York Red Bulls. The defender impressed greatly, doing his part to shut down Juan Pablo Angel and the New York attack.
"From day one, I knew that Dario was pretty solid, he just came into training and made an impact," said defender Jonathan Bornstein. "They've (Umaña and Delgado) really got that chemistry and its very good for us so we hope that we can keep more clean sheets with them in the back."
That chemistry between the pair was forged through years in the Costa Rican league together. Although Delgado and Umaña never played for the same club, — Delgado spent three years with Puntarenas while Umaña was playing for Liberia Mia. The pair forged a professional respect for one another and soon found themselves lining up in central defense together for the Costa Rican national team during the past year.
"We've always played against each other and only over the past year have we spent a great deal of time together on the national team," said Delgado. "But, having somebody that was also on the national team with me is very important as we have a way of speaking from our own country and that helps us form a solid defense."
The defensive play of Chivas was a point of contention during the Rojiblancos opening two matches. It was the play of Michael Umaña in particular, that drew scrutiny as the defender appeared unsettled in the club's first two losses. However, with his compatriot by his side, Umaña was able to put in an effective performance over 90 minutes against New York. Although the defender played in MLS in 2005, the Costa Rican appeared noticeably more confident paired with Delgado in the back line.
"MLS is a very different league than the one in Costa Rica, but what helps us most is that we have the same customs and the same communication which goes a long way for us to figure out how things work in MLS," said Umaña. "I believe that we can do good work together here and I hope that we continue to get better."
A key part of the improvement of the center backs is the work that Martin Vasquez has put in helping the pair becoming more familiar with MLS. On the training ground, the head coach has been instrumental in integrating them with team by speaking to them in English rather than their native Spanish so that they can communicate with their English speaking teammates. It is this proactive approach that has helped Delgado feel like more than just a new addition.
"I feel like I'm learning very quickly and adapting to the league very well because of the coaching staff, said Delgado. "It doesn't even feel like I am a new player, I feel like I've been here all along."
CHIVAS USA NOTES
Midfielder Marcelo Saragosa is questionable for Saturday's match against Houston. Due to picking up an inflamed Achilles injury in last week's victory against the Red Bulls. In addition, forward Maykel Galindo is out for 1 to 2 weeks after suffering a left sprained ankle.