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Once a Goat: Catching up with Former Chivas USA Players

BOLTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Guzan: Getting a shot for Villa (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
BOLTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Guzan: Getting a shot for Villa (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Although Chivas USA has not been around for a very long time, history is constantly being made. Following news of a few former Goats making their way in other leagues around the world, I thought it would be useful to start a new semi-regular series on players who used to be with Chivas. We'll feature updates on former Chivas players from time to time, asking writers and fans in the know to help us out when available. Since it's the inaugural entry, I may include a larger number of players than in the future, where we'll focus on a few players at a time. Have any feedback on this series? Let us know. We'd be happy to hear suggestions, or even questions about which players you would like to hear about.

Jonathan Bornstein

Let's get started with arguably the three most important players in Chivas short history. First, let's start with defender Jonathan Bornstein, who left Chivas in 2010 as captain and with the record for most appearances in club history. Starting at the beginning of 2011 Bornstein signed with UANL in the FMF. Concerns about acclimating to a new country were downplayed, as Bornstein's mother is Mexican.

He got off to a decent start in the 2011 Clausura for Tigres, playing seven matches, mostly as a sub or as one of the first starters to be subbed off. I assume he expected to get more playing time in the 2011 Apertura, but he saw no time in this recent half-season. The good news? Tigres won the Apertura title last week, so Bornstein was on a title-winning club. The bad news? His days are definitely numbered at Tigres. Back in August, he was hinting that it wasn't working out, and not playing a minute in the Apertura sort of seals his fate. The bad news for Chivas fans of Bornstein? His rights are currently held by the Portland Timbers, so if he returned to MLS in 2012, Portland controls his fate. If Chivas wanted him back, they would have to give something up to the Timbers.

Brad Guzan

It has mostly been quiet for the former Chivas goalkeeper since he was transferred to Aston Villa in the summer of 2008, but he's gotten a starting shot in recent weeks. I asked Aaron Campeau, who writes for the Aston Villa SB Nation blog 7500 to Holte to weigh in on Guzan's tenure in the claret and blue side of Birmingham. He was gracious enough to provide a detailed assessment:

Brad Guzan isn't really a player that's at the forefront of the mind of supporters of any of the teams he follows; he's very clearly second choice behind Tim Howard in terms of the US National Team picture and he's spent the vast majority of his time at Aston Villa stuck behind Brad Friedel. The general assumption amongst Villa fans was that when it came time for Big Brad to retire Little Brad would slide into place, and there were signs of a succession plan during the 2009-10 season when Guzan was in goal for the entirety of the club's run to the Carling Cup final, including a fantastic performance against Sunderland during which he saved a penalty during regulation time and three more during the deciding shootout. Despite this, Martin O'Neill chose Friedel for the final, leading to some pretty publicized hurt feelings on Guzan's part. Things didn't improve when new manager Gerard Houllier ignored Guzan entirely during his only season in charge, leading to speculation than a late-season loan to Guzan may become permanent. After an underwhelming 2010-11 season and off-season which saw them lose several key players, Villa was in no way prepared to take a chance on a goalkeeper lacking in experience at the Premier League level and instead signed Shay Given before the hiring of Alex McLeish as manager was even officially announced. That looked to spell the end of Guzan's time in Birmingham, but an injury to Given in early December against Manchester United led to Guzan earning his first Premier League start the following week against Bolton. Guzan didn't disappoint, making several excellent saves in helping to preserve a 2-1 win. Still, despite the performance and a near guarantee of another month as Villa's first-choice keeper, it's clear that Guzan is far more likely to be with another club come August of next year.

That's not something that should be held against him. Guzan has performed very well in his limited opportunities with the first team. There are elements of his game that need work for him to be an above-average keeper in the Premier League, but they're precisely the kinds of things you'd expect to a keeper to improve with live game experience. It's understandable that he was unable to unseat Friedel and it's equally understandable that Villa weren't in the mood to take many risks following their narrow escape from a late-season relegation battle the season before, but it's equally understandable that Guzan would be frustrated and looking for a fresh start. With promising youngster Benjamin Siegrist working his way through the ranks, Villa may finally be nearing a point where they're comfortable parting ways. The club has made an approach to extend his contract, but it seems likely that they're more interested in being able to hold onto him through the season without losing him on a free transfer in the summer than a sudden realization that he's a key part of their future plans. As a Villa fan, I certainly understand their motivation for doing so and I will admit that it's very nice to have a keeper you trust behind your club's #1. But as a US National Team and Brad Guzan fan, I'd really like to see him get the fresh start he so clearly craves. If he does, he's going to surprise a few people.

Sacha Kljestan

The midfielder has settled in nicely for Anderlecht in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League since signing in the summer of 2010. He's become a fixture for the side, which is doing well domestically and in the Europa League, where they have progressed to the knockout stages. We'll have a longer update on Kljestan hopefully in the near future, but suffice it to say, looks like he's doing well.

Juan Francisco Palencia

Paco hasn't been with Chivas USA since 2006, but I know many fans followed him after he returned to Mexico. Playing for UNAM since 2007, the 38-year old retired last month. He won two titles with Pumas after his return to Mexico: the 2009 Clausura, and the 2011 Clausura. Good luck to him in his post-playing days.

Giancarlo Maldonado

The Venezuelan who paved the way for Alejandro Moreno (not exactly, but he did precede Moreno), Maldonado had an undistinguished season with Chivas in 2010, and promptly returned to Mexico in 2011. He has been loaned out to Atlas from Atlante for next season, but that's not what has distinguished him in 2011. On the international front, Maldonado has been part of the forward rotation for Venezuela, along with Moreno, which as you might know had the historic run to the semifinals of the Copa America last summer. La Vinotinto has also started their 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign on a good note, so Maldonado may be contributing to a first-ever World Cup appearance for his country.

Dario Delgado

The Costa Rican defender did not have a particularly illustrious season with Chivas in 2010, which was a poor year for the team, but Delgado wins the current sweepstakes of most obscure destination for a former player. He spent 2011 with Guangdong Sunray Cave F.C., which is in the Chinese second division. China is still largely considered a soccer backwater internationally, especially compared to the J-League (Japan) and K-League (South Korea), and next to nothing is known about the second division. I even support a Chinese Super League Team (Tianjin TEDA) and I had never heard of this team! Adding insult to injury, Delgado's English wikipedia page said he broke two bones in his leg back in May, so I imagine he is still recovering from the unfortunate injury.

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