Chivas USA was not a dignified club. Between the failed targeted Hispanic marketing, the alleged racial discrimination (and damning portrait of Jorge Vergara), and the puzzling appearance of Paco Palencia on HBO Real Sports to defend the club, Chivas was fodder for many jokes and bewildering reading -- and rightfully so.
Though most of the Stub Hub Center's seats sat vacant, the team still managed to put talent on the pitch. Brad Guzan would go on to play for Aston Villa, Sacha Klejstan won league titles and saw Champions League play with R.S.C Anderlecht in Belgium, and "Cubo" Torres is one of Mexico's (and, granting successful league negotiations, MLS') rising talents. Still, the club also capped many a waning career for players in their twilight from Jimmy Conrad to Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno and, most recently, Carlos Bocanegra.
Which brings us to now. MLS officially announced the shuttering of their third franchise (several years after early contraction of Miami and Tampa Bay) and have given few details on the upcoming "dispersal draft" which should allow for current MLS teams to stake claim to the Chivas USA roster. While details remain scant, Houston should have an opportunity to claim players ahead of the expansion draft in December. Here's a handful of the Chivas roster that could prove valuable to a Dynamo team on the mend.
Dan Kennedy, Goalkeeper
With the news of Tally Hall making a big move to expansion Orlando City SC, there is a bit of a keeper vacancy. Allegedly, this move was completed in the summer ahead of Tally's ACL injury and will not be "official" until the December 8th trade deadline. There are two ways to read into this. Either the Dynamo technical staff felt confident to push Tyler Deric into the starting role (an inevitable and successful move, it turns out) or with few starts for Deric in previous seasons, were making moves to secure a starting keeper. Currently sitting behind Deric is prospect Michael Lisch, which the Dynamo drafted prior to the 2014 season. The 24 year old (Deric is 26) leaves room for an experienced keeper to fill. Kennedy, a career-long Chivas keeper, took over in 2010 after Zach Thornton. Kennedy has always had critical accolades but had the unfortunate position of playing for Chivas USA. Now 32, Kennedy could rightfully start for most teams in MLS. Whether he could beat out Deric is probably debatable but he'd be a more than serviceable backup if he's willing to fill that role.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Defender
Jean-Baptiste is coming off a rough year. With a league-worst -32 goal differential (and it's not even close), this centerback (who only played in ten of those games) was on the field for four 3-0 losses this season! That said, Jean-Baptiste is young (22) and is following up his 2013 season wherein he started 26 games for the Portland Timbers and topped the uber-competitive Western Conference with a goal differential of 21. And, since his drafting in 2012, who was his centerback pairing that he trained with? That would be David Horst. For the Dynamo, I think AJB is a must-have in the dispersal draft. Jermaine Taylor appears to be the odd-man-out as Horst and 21 year-old defender AJ Cochran began smoothing over towards the end of the season. With Taylor still under contract, a four-centerback group of Horst, Cochran, Taylor, and Jean-Baptiste would be one worth keeping following a full preseason. This group provides capable short-term depth and has four hard-nosed players competing for a starting spot -- an issue the Dynamo haven't been blessed with in several years.
Nathan Sturgis, Defender/Midfield
Hey, this guy seems familiar! Nathan had the pleasure of playing (or, not playing) for Houston in the 2012 season in which he saw 5 appearances before being sent to Colorado Rapids for Omar Cummings. During that time, Sturgis was unremarkable. However, when he arrived in Colorado, the teamwork of Sturgis and centerback Drew Moor helped create a stingy defense for the Rapids and a pathway to another playoff appearance. Sturgis has versatility in either the defensive midfield or in the center of defense. Should a new coach bring in new formations for the Dynamo to try out, Sturgis could help provide an anchor to either position. While I'd be aiming for Jean-Baptiste, Sturgis could hardly be considered a loss after a couple of years of development and would be worth a draft.
The Big Fish, Erick "Cubo" Torres, Forward
All we know about Cubo Torres is that he isn't included in the Dispersal Draft. MLS appears to be negotiating a contract with Torres for a long-term career in the MLS, despite interest in Mexico and abroad. Torres is a proven goalscorer (15 Goals in 29 games), a young prospect (21), and a rising talent for the Mexican national team, netting his first goal for El Tri earlier this month. He's a hot commodity and highly sought after following Chivas' collapse. Should MLS retain his contract, the Dynamo (and several other teams, likely) should do everything they can to sign Torres. He would resolve several issues at the forward position and could be a good pairing with Giles Barnes and even Will Bruin, who is channeling a bit of a provider role at times this season. All that said, it's not quite clear how Cubo might be auctioned off and that makes it difficult to judge if he's a realistic prospect for the Dynamo. There may also be other considerations, too, in order for it to happen (clearing international slots, clearing the likely-needed DP slot, and clearing salary room from owners). Still, he's a hot target and one that would fill many needs of the Dynamo.
Midfielders Mauro Rosales (great veteran presence and nice bit of technical skill) and Thomas McNamara (young prospect with potential and a sick mullet) is certainly worth a look at the right price, as well. [As a reader pointed out, Mauro Rosales was sent to Vancouver in August. Apologies for the oversight]
As more details emerge with Cubo and the dispersal draft (not to mention which members of the Dynamo technical staff are responsible for these decisions), strategies and certainties will be easier to nail down. As of now, it's clear that Chivas, despite all of its well-deserved (and sometimes not so much) criticism, boasts a roster of talent that the Dynamo could make use of. Beating other teams to the punch, however, might be another story.