CARSON, Calif. – Jose Luis Sanchez Sola uses colorful Spanish idioms. Two games into his MLS tenure, he ranks near the top of coaches in the league for quotability, despite his poor English. After an opening 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, Chelis proclaimed: "This team won't die by dandruff." (Translation: We're not going down because of the small things.)
If anything, a 3-1 come-from-behind win over FC Dallas in the Home Depot Center made the Mexican coach even more evocative. Following is a transcript of his post-match press conference, edited for clarity. Unless noted, Chelis spoke in Spanish, which was translated in real-time by Chivas USA communications coordinator Alex Arpiza. All questions are paraphrased.
Question: A much better display today compared to last week. What was the biggest difference for you guys?
Chelis: To start, good evening. The most important aspect, the most important, was the play of Mario De Luna. [Note: De Luna's wife gave birth on Sunday.] This team has to play football, which is what we do. Nobody is obligated to do the impossible here. However, this team today pushed the edges of impossibility. ...
I think that was the difference between last week and today. We're battling, we're committed. We are obligated to give our all, give our best effort. This team – not you, not I – all of us that are down there on the pitch playing, practicing, believe me that we all do it every single day. We do it very very well. ... Today, our obligation was giving our maximum effort. We can't give any more than we have since day one.
[Chelis holds out his hands, one slightly higher than the other, then continues in English.] This is the possible and this is the impossible. Possible, impossible. [Grunts, pushing the 'possible' hand close to the 'impossible' one.] Today, [grunts again to indicate effort]. Like a cat scratching.
Question: The first half Chivas USA wasn't able to gel and then came together in the second.
Chelis: I'm the one that has to deal with that. Obviously you make substitutions looking to improve your team’s performance. You don't make changes to get a worse result. We made adjustments last week. Last week we had a lot of failed opportunities for passes. We had looks as well. But please do not give me credit for the win. The players won today, not me. Everyone who is sitting down there on the pitch next to me is dying to get in. If I could, I would make seven changes, but I can't.
Question: Does this result give the team a better outlook going forward?
Chelis: It's a young tournament. We took our first step, thankfully. It gives us credibility. As a player, as an athlete you definitely need these results. Granted, we had a lot of failed opportunities. The only failure I will not permit is if we stop to give that effort. [Bangs fist on table.] We cannot let up, we cannot lower our heads, we cannot stop giving that 100 percent effort. We were getting tired, a little bit sluggish, but we continued to battle. Thank God, we ended up with three points.
Question: Does this result give you confidence heading into the match next week against the LA Galaxy?
Chelis: Right now I'm not thinking about the Galaxy. Right now what we're feeling is no less important than what we feel against the Galaxy. Right now what I [will] do is celebrate the birth of my grandchild, then we think about the Galaxy later on. [Note: Sanchez Sola's grandchild was born three days prior to the match.]
Question: What's your take on Juan Agudelo's performance?
Chelis: Muy bien. [In English:] Very good, very nice. He's the reference to my offense, Juan. He's the first player, because he knows [how] to play with the back to the goal, and the support to another player of the same team is nice. ... More important to the offense: he have goal. He have goal. ... He [was] born in Colombia, but he [was made] in the States. He plays in the team to the States, nice Juan Agudelo, and play in Chivas.
Question: What's Walter Vilchez's status?
Chelis: [In English:] I think it was just a hit, because go to my locker, his left, move this. [Chelis bends and stretches his finger to show mobility of the limb.] I think that no broke nothing. Gracias dios, because when we begin the games, all the players talk with the big God and say, 'Finish OK everybody.' And [we] finished OK everybody.
Question: Giovani Casillas seemed to open the game up. What'd you make of his performance?
Chelis: Here's my opinion. My opinion is that he came in, played a position that he's not comfortable in, it's not his natural position. Football rewards you. If you go into a match and you grind and grind and grind for the good of the team, at the end, it rewards you. In a barrel of feces, you're grinding and grinding, you finally poke your head up to get the fresh air. You grind, football rewards you, and those are some of my happiest moments, when my players get rewarded that way. ...
The organization needs to believe in us. Today shows that we deserve better. Ten million Mexicans live in Los Angeles. Believe me, when you come out and there's 4,000 out there, it's tough. [The official attendance was 6,801.] We've got to do something. The ones that are on the pitch, believe me, we're giving 100 percent. We'll see what other department can join and get on board.
Question: Given the ghastly series of Dallas defensive mistakes, do you believe that Chivas USA won the game or do you believe that Dallas lost it?
Chelis: [Laughs.] C'mon! [In English:] Give me one. Give me one for my players. Chivas win. Chivas win. When you make one goal, your offense dine on another defense bad. It's normal. If Barcelona make a goal, another defense bad. Why when Chivas make a goal, it is because the defense is very, very bad? No, it's very nice my offense, cabron.
Question: Are you saying you want only Mexicans and not all Latinos to attend games?
Chelis: No. I want Latino. Our roots are Chivas, but we're not going to segregate Latinos. What we have to do is reach out to all the market. There's a lot of people from Guatemala, Salvador that support me and they live here. They don't even realize what we're doing here, which is unforgivable. We're not saying, 'Show me your passport. You're not allowed.' No, we're here for all you guys: Latinos, Anglos, Caucasians, everybody.
Question: Is it better to include all, not just Mexican? A lot of people come here to support you – African, White, Latino.
Chelis: You're right. I agree. I don't know, it might be because you're very attractive, but you're right.
Question: How many grandchildren do you have?
Chelis holds up three fingers.
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