Sasha Kljestan has to lead the way again in 2009, but how long will he stay? (Getty Images)

Another round of season previews today. We ship out west to see what Chivas USA will have in stored for us this year. Last year the AmeriGoats came around late in the year after battling loads of injuries to make the playoffs for the third straight season. Can they do it again?

2008 record and finish: 12-11-7, 43 pts., finished second in West, lost in conference semifinals.

Player Movement:

Incoming:
Ante Jazic (trade with LA)
Michael Lahoud (SuperDraft)

Outgoing:
Alex Zotinca (waived)
Roberto Nurse (Veracruz – Mexico)
Francisco Mendoza (Guadalajara – Mexico)

Unsigned Draft Picks:
Kyle Christensen
Jamie Franks

Questions going into 2009:

1. Can the AmeriGoats stay healthy in 2009?

As we mentioned 2008 was a rough year on this bunch. I would say that they maybe had a game or two late in the year with most of their starters healthy. Not once did they ever get momentum from game-t0-game out of their starters due to injuries. That should be different this year as most of their key players appear to be healthy right now in training camp.

That’s a good thing too because with Preki leading the charge on the bench this club is dangerous when healthy.

2. Did the lack of movement help or hurt this club over the winter?

Chivas USA was another club that really did little in terms of movement this winter. They probably figured most of their guys would get healthy and that they wouldn’t need to do a whole lot to keep what they had from a year ago. Still I think they needed to do more to improve going into 2009. They are set to lose Sasha Kljestan to some European club this summer and not making a move (other than drafting Michael Lahoud).

I know there are a couple trialist as we speek but before long they have to sign a player or two to make a difference in this club in regards to upgrades. Offensively they didn’t get much better and defensively they added Ante Jazic. You tell me if that is any better. Also, the question in goal isn’t a definite one with Dan Kennedy. Is he really a number one keeper in MLS? We will see.

3. Who is due for a breakout season in 2009?

Based on what he did in 2007 and what he wasn’t able to do in 2008 I would have to go with Maykel Galindo on this one. Not being healthy for the majority of 2008 really hurt Chivas on and off the field. They need Galindo healthy and scoring this year because other than him and an aging Ante Razov I just don’t know where the goals will come from up top. Galindo has to be that trend setter this year for the AmeriGoats.

Look at the 2009 Schedule:

Just like most clubs, light in certain months (June, July, September) and heavy in others (April, May, August, October).

Tough stretch before and after the All-Star break with seven of 10 games on the road, all during the summer months. On the flip side in both April, May, and October three of five games in each month are at the HDC.

That last two months of the season could be huge for Chivas with five of eight at home. One of those road trips late in the year is to Seattle while the other two roadies late in the year are in tough places (Chicago and DC).

A very interesting schedule. Should they stay healthy they could be fine going into the summer but those three summer months will be interesting, especially if they lose Kljestan do fail to address the need to fill his spot.

2009 Season Outlook:

With little movement and not addressing key areas (yet) before the season I have trouble getting a good sense about this club. I know they’ve done pretty well so far in preseason action but that is just preseason stuff. Once they get into the season we can gage this club a little better. But right now they don’t appear to be a playoff club with how the West is shaping up to be this year. Doing little in terms of improvement in a tough conference makes me really question the moves this club is…or well isn’t making at the moment.

Plus there will be the same feeling as last year with Brad Guzan about when Kljestan will leave the club. If things aren’t going well then would they start to sell off parts to rebuild next winter through the draft or continue the current pace that they are on by doing little to cope?