So reported Scott French last week. Multiple sources, including a club official, however, were wrong.
I'd have burned those sources like Guy Montag, but Scott prefers to look ahead.
It looks like the candidates are Denis Hamlett and Robin Fraser. Both were original MLS players, both were defenders. One was a perennial all-star and former MLS Defender of the year, the other, well, wasn't. Hamlett has head coaching experience, and although some might call it a rap sheet, it's nowhere near as stained as that of Juan Carlos Osorio.
Fraser, amazingly, has not gotten his shot yet. I can't even pretend to be unbiased about this. Yeah, on the one hand, he's young, but Curt Onalfo had two MLS head coaching gigs already, and he's three years younger than Fraser. I don't know for a fact that Fraser would be a good head coach - I just can't imagine that he wouldn't. Fraser played the game with intelligence, savvy, and leadership. Those seem like good qualities for a manager, but what the hell do I know.
Then again, Martin Vasquez looked like a couldn't-miss choice, too. So maybe it's the team that's the problem. I'm at least as biased on this topic, too, I admit it. But I don't anticipate much argument that Chivas USA is a death ship. Scott French called Jorge Vergara a "silent partner" the other week, while (bafflingly) lauding the leadership skills of Antonio Cue. When Chivas USA came into the league, Vergara was anything but silent, but it's not as if the team has given him a lot to talk about. They have no coherent identity, no discernible target audience, and no apparent plan for the future. Even Toronto has a fan base. Even New England has a fan base they could conceivably win back at some point. Chivas USA - not so much.
Sure, in theory fans will watch a winner, and sure, it's possible for a coach to win at Chivas USA - Bob Bradley did. (So did Preki, but with Bradley's players. Vasquez had Preki's players, and look how that turned out.) What's not possible is for Chivas USA to win and draw fans.
LA-based Guadalajara fans ignored Chivas USA when they fielded Ramon Ramirez, Paco Palencia and Claudio Suarez. Chivas USA can't begin to dream of signing a Mexican star in his prime, because any Mexican star in his prime would be directed to Jalisco instead of Carson. Theoretically Chivas USA could sign a non-Mexican star, but that wouldn't win over the Guadalajara fans, for obvious reasons. Alone among MLS teams, Chivas USA has a built-in deterrent against signing players that could help attendance. Nice business plan.
Anyway, as we've seen, provided Chivas USA's coach is a prominent expert in the American talent pool, and can consistently deliver year after year of fantastic college drafts, then Chivas USA can compete. As in, first round of the playoffs. Of course, those young stars - Guzan, Kljestan, Bornstein - tend to flee at the earliest opportunity, which also helps give Chivas USA that Clippers-esque tinge. But as long as Chivas USA can force good young players to fulfill their current contractual obligations, then maybe coaching that team wouldn't be a terminally frustrating experience.
Although those low expectations can have significant benefits. Chivas USA is still the only team to boast two consecutive Coaches of the year. Which is a bit like winning Comeback Player of the Year twice in a row, if you think about it. No one gets Coach of the Year for taking a preseason favorite to MLS Cup, but CUSA had two win for getting to the playoffs. A wise and respected philosopher once expounded on "the soft bigotry of low expectations," but if Fraser or Hamlett can get eleven guys on the field who can pass the Turing test, then their reputations will be made or saved.
The other reason Chivas USA might strongly consider Fraser is to stick it to the Galaxy. The Galaxy do have a large extended family of alumni and veterans, many of whom you see on sidelines week after week in some capacity. But the Galaxy have no sense of their own history these days, content to be a mixture of the Beckham circus and Bruce Arena's nostalgia for the 2002 US World Cup team. Hiring Fraser would be a serious put-down of their pretentious, social-climbing roommates.
If that were the case, however, Chivas USA would give Mauricio Cienfuegos a call. Yes, his coaching career in El Salvador has been checkered, but it's nothing like Osorio's rap sheet. Or they could hire Octavio Zambrano, who might have been rehabilitated enough by now.
But Chivas USA probably doesn't want to remind people, however indirectly, that the Galaxy have a proud and successful history. At least if Hamlett is hired, the word "Galaxy" won't appear every time someone mentions his bio.
But...it's a bad job. I know, it's a first division gig, and it's one that's been a steppingstone to bigger things for some. It's just....
Okay. You really want to know why nobody should be considering the CUSA job, except out of sheer desperation? You want to know everything you need to know about that franchise? Take a trip to Carson. (It's lovely this time of year.) Go to the Home Depot Center, and mosey on over to the northeast corner. Look at the "It Happens Here" banner - it features a much larger than life image of a very famous Chivas USA player. Try to guess who it is. Once you do - and once you ponder why, in the Year of Our Lord Almost 2011, that guy is still being shown as the face of the franchise - you'll no longer have any questions about Chivas USA.