Editor's Note: Here's the latest from Luis Bueno. If you missed it, be sure to check out his debut article for the site last week.
There's no turning back now.
Jose Luis Real got a rude introduction to MLS and, particularly, life as coach of Chivas USA. Wednesday, Chivas squandered an early lead and wound up losing 3-1 at Vancouver as Real debuted with an ugly loss.
With one fell swoop, Real saw Chivas' undermanned roster and its limitations, learned how strong and unforgiving opponents can be and got a taste of just how difficult this period in his life will be.
Yes, it got real quite fast for Real.
Just one week ago, Real proclaimed in a press conference that being Chivas USA coach was the most important challenge of his career, and while it's perhaps unwise to draw such conclusions from one match, it could also turn out to be one of his most fruitless ventures.
After all, how can you make orange juice when you have few suitable oranges?
When Real arrived, two Chivas USA players departed. Giovani Casillas was collecting dust on the bench so no matter but Eric Avila was Chivas USA's most dynamic player through the season's first three months.
Without Avila pulling the strings, Chivas' limitations were evident. Tristan Bowen did well to put the club ahead early but the attack was lacking throughout the rest of the match. Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton made exactly zero saves. Also, Chivas USA were shutout in a closed-door friendly against Chivas Guadalajara on Sunday. Whatever issues Real saw then were not corrected enough ahead of the trip to Canada.
Now the tests will increase rapidly. The Galaxy await on Sunday in the latest edition of the SuperClasico. The Galaxy will surely test Chivas' new-look four-man backline and will be tough to break down - they have allowed just two goals all season long at the building now known as StubHub Center.
One of those goals, of course, was scored by Carlos Alvarez in Chivas' 1-1 draw against the Galaxy on March 17. There was promise after that goal, but most of that promise has now dissipated.
Hence the coaching move.
Real has shown to be capable. He led Chivas Guadalajara to the Copa Libertadores final in 2010 and has generally been regarded as a strong developer of talent. While that is all well and good, Real's skills will be put to the test.
No matter what sort of relationship he has with club owner Jorge Vergara and management types like Francisco Palencia or Dennis te Kloese, Real must get results if Chivas USA stand a chance of contending for a playoff spot. After all, the MLS playoff system is very forgiving to teams who suffer through poor spells.
But Real's work will be tough. Bowen is tied with Juan Agudelo for the team lead in goals with two, and Agudelo was dealt away in early May. Dan Kennedy and Oswaldo Minda are solid but Chivas has a dearth of talent everywhere on the field, and there have been little indications to believe any strong reinforcements will arrive over the summer.
The road ahead will be cruel and unyielding, and the harsh reality that this Chivas USA cannot contend in MLS will quickly become evident to Real, if it hasn't already.
And that's for real.
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