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Chelís returns to American soccer as manager of new Las Vegas USL team

One-of-a-kind gets a second chance in U.S.

Good ole’ Chelís.
Courtesy of Las Vegas Lights FC

The legend of Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, the man better known in North American soccer as Chelís, has grown and grown since his brief foray into American soccer in 2013. Hired as the manager of Chivas USA ahead of the ill-fated 2013 season, he was unceremoniously fired by May of that year, and despite leading the team to a terrible skid that doomed the season before it was barely alive, he still came out of it looking pretty good.

The truth is, Chivas USA had by far the worst roster in MLS to start that season, and while Chelís attempted to make lemonade with the lemons he had, it was a futile quest, and once he spoke out against Jorge Vergara the die was cast.

Well guess what, those who don’t follow Mexican soccer closely or watch ESPN Deportes? Chelís is back in the coaching game, as on Monday he was named the first ever manager of Las Vegas Lights FC, the USL expansion team in Sin City for 2018.

“I am extremely excited to build a spectacular team for a spectacular city,” said Chelís in a statement on the hire. “I am grateful to Las Vegas Lights FC for the opportunity to excite this city with the most beautiful sport in the world.”

I for one am thrilled with this appointment. First, is Chelís a manager capable of succeeding in American soccer? We still don’t know, as he basically had both hands tied behind his back in his first stint in the states.

I do know his players pretty much universally love him. Players from the 2013 Chivas team still tweet at him occasionally, in warm terms. Even players who were pushed out the door in the fire sale to end all fire sales in 2013 recall Chelís being a decent guy when the front office were not. This guy is a player’s manager, and I think Vegas will find a bunch of players who will be happy to play for him.

He’s also the best quote in soccer. Chelís says things you won’t believe. He says wholly original things, stuff that nobody is even thinking. Will this get him into trouble at some point? Probably, but let’s hope it’s a minor gaffe along the lines of his crack that Salt Lake City was a place he would send his grandchildren to as a punishment, before actually traveling to Utah for the first time, seeing it was actually kind of a nice place, and apologizing (that really happened!).

Chelís also has some interesting tactical ideas. He was literally the only manager in MLS in 2013 to use a three-man backline, something that backfired completely without the right personnel, but hey, maybe he was the one who deserves the credit for the cycle and not some high-falutin’ European manager? Just saying.

So anyway. I am really excited about this appointment, and you should be, too. I don’t think Chelís is merely going to provide a sideshow, although he most likely will, but he fits the ethos of Las Vegas perfectly. And this may be a chance for him to really show his coaching style in American soccer, presumably with a team that will actually give him room to really mold his squad.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!