Goalkeepers Depth Chart: 1. Kennedy, 2. Melia, 3. Rowe/Mclain/Guppy Strengths: Dan Kennedy blossomed into one of the finest goalkeepers in the league in 2011, enjoying a Goalkeeper of the Year-type season and routinely making key saves to keep the Rojiblancos in games. Weaknesses: Kennedy was healthy last season, but injuries ravaged the talented goalkeeper over the past several years. If Kennedy were to pick up an injury, Tim Melia is a relatively untested backup. Wildcard: Melia may be untested, but the 25-year-old 'keeper has earned acclaim for his composure in the net this preseason. Meanwhile, the third goalkeeper spot has been in flux throughout the offseason. Currently, Supplemental Draft pick Brian Rowe and trialists Patrick McLain and Kevin Guppy are fighting for the spot behind Melia. Defense Depth Chart: RB: 1. Riley, 2. Lahoud; CB: 1. Pearce – Valencia, 2. McKenzie, 3. Júnior Lopes; LB: 1. Jazic, 2. Villafaña Strengths: Chivas boast a quality back four led by US international Heath Pearce, who will be playing his second full season at the center back position. To bolster the back line, Fraser added a pair of veterans in Colombian center back John Alexander Valencia and right back James Riley. They'll be needed to settle a defense that struggled at times last season. Weaknesses: Behind a solid first four, Chivas’ depth is still a question mark. In his first season with the club, David Júnior Lopes was prone to mental lapses that put his side in difficult positions on the field. Rauwshan McKenzie is a capable backup, but the 25-year-old center back has made only 11 appearances during his four years in MLS. Wildcard: Jorge Villafaña (formerly Flores) has continued to earn call-ups to the US Under-23 side, but he has yet to lock down a spot in the Rojiblancos back line. Motivated by a potential ticket to London, Villafaña’s high work rate could allow “Sueno” to push Ante Jazic for a starting position along the left side of the defense. Midfield Depth Chart: LM 1. Smith, 2. Courtois, 3. Villafaña; CM 1. Minda, 2. LaBrocca, 3. Bolaños; 4. Zemanski, 5. Gavin, 6. Vagenas; RM 1. Lahoud, 2. Gavin Strengths: The deepest spot on the team, Fraser has brought in an impressive haul of midfielders, comprising a group that may be as talented as any in MLS. Fraser’s midfield triangle, which features two defensive midfielders and a more attack-minded midfielder behind a lone striker, appears to have energized wide players such as Mike Lahoud and Ryan Smith, who have been dangerous throughout the preseason. Weaknesses: If the midfield has a weakness, it may be that they have too many players in the center of the park and simply not enough positions in the starting lineup. Talented youngsters Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin may face extended minutes on the bench due to the club’s depth at midfield. Wildcard: Pete Vagenas, the former “Mr. Galaxy," may not be popular with Chivas supporters just yet, but the MLS veteran is looking to do what he can to earn the affection of his new fans. A talented organizer, the 34-year-old is expected to bring a calming presence to the midfield rotation. Vagenas' impact will not be found solely on the field, though, as the 12-year veteran is expected to play a major leadership role for Chivas’ bushel of young midfielders. Forwards Depth Chart: 1. Ángel, 2. Moreno, 3. Townsend, 4. Romero, 5. Cortez Strengths: Juan Pablo Ángel remains the jewel of the group. After arriving from the Galaxy midseason, he went on scoring spree, tallying in seven of nine games for the Rojiblancos. The veteran Colombian is another year older, but has been spry throughout the preseason. Weaknesses: The forward group may be talented, but the drop off between the starters and the bench is a steep one. Ángel and Alejandro Moreno remain solid options up top, but Casey Townsend, Cesar Romero and Chris Cortez – while talented – remain unproven at the professional level. Wildcard: Townsend has impressed this preseason since returning from a hamstring injury. Drawing rave reviews for his nose for goal and intensity on the practice field, the former Maryland striker is a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate. Also, Romero – a former US youth international who was most recently playing arena soccer in Tijuana – is another intriguing prospect up top. Setting the Scene In his first year at the helm of Chivas USA, head coach Robin Fraser’s side took their share of bumps and bruises. Now, in his second year, Fraser believes his team can become a force in the Western Conference. In 2011, the Rojiblancos were in the playoff hunt until late in the season when turnovers and blown leads resigned the club to a finish just outside of the MLS Cup Playoffs field. WATCH: Chivas USA gelling during preseason In order to prevent that from happening again, Fraser has been active this offseason, making a number of moves in hopes of creating a Rojiblancos team that can maintain its focus for a full 90 minutes. With the steady goalkeeping of Dan Kennedy, a full season with Juan Pablo Ángel and the astute additions of midfielder Oswaldo Minda and defender John Alexander Valencia, among others, the Rojiblancos have reason to believe that they can compete for a playoff berth. In and Out IN: M Ryan Smith (11/21: trade from Sporting KC); D James Riley (11/23: from Seattle, via trade from Montreal); MOswaldo Minda (12/21: SD Quito); M Miller Bolaños (1/11: LDU Quito); F Casey Townsend (1/12: SuperDraft); DR.J. Allen (1/17: supplemental draft); G Brian Rowe (1/17: supplemental draft); D Daniel Steres (1/17: supplemental draft); D Fabian Kling (1/17: supplemental draft); D Kevin Venegas (1/17: supplemental draft); GTim Melia (1/17: free); D John Valencia (1/24: Atlético Junior); M Marvin Iraheta (1/24: Cosmos Academy); DRauwshan McKenzie (2/22: free); M Peter Vagenas (2/22: free); F Cesar Romero (2/22: free) OUT: F Justin Braun (11/23: trade to Montreal); M Gerson Mayen (11/23: trade to Montreal); D Zarek Valentin(11/23: expansion draft); M Paulo Nagamura (11/29: trade to Sporting KC); D Andrew Boyens (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); F Chukwudi Chujindu (12/12: option declined); M Simon Elliott (12/12: out of contract); G Zach Thornton (12/12: option declined); D Mariano Trujillo (12/12: option declined); D Michael Umaña (1/2: free/Comunicaciones); F Marcos Mondaini (1/4: loan option declined); G Sergio Arias (1/4: loan option declined); F Víctor Estupiñán (1/4: option declined); D R.J. Allen (2/16: released); D Fabian Kling (2/16: released) Star Attraction: Juan Pablo Ángel Ángel took Chivas USA by storm in his first stint with the Rojiblancos, now he’ll be asked to continue his brilliance over the course of a full season. Angel tallied seven goals in nine appearances for Chivas USA after being traded from the LA Galaxy at midseason. For Angel to duplicate his stellar performances in 2011, he’ll need the slick passing of Nick LaBrocca, Ryan Smith and Mike Lahoud to continue to put him in dangerous positions. Unsung Hero: Mike Lahoud The versatile right-sider (pictured right) has been a man without a position since coming into the league, playing everything from defensive midfield to right back to right wing. During the preseason, Lahoud appears to have found his position on the right side of Fraser’s midfield triangle. Frequently interchanging with left midfielder Smith, Lahoud has developed a penchant for making timely runs at goal that have helped set up numerous scoring opportunities for the Rojiblancos. Ready for Primetime: Oswalda Minda Minda brings a winner's mentality to the Rojiblancos midfield after winning championships in two out of three seasons for his previous club, Deportivo Quito. In addition to stabilizing the Chivas midfield, the Ecuadorian international’s physicality and ability to recover and find good positions following turnovers make him a valuable asset. By season's end, Minda may be considered one of the league’s shrewdest offseason signings. Storylines to Watch 1. How will Miller Bolaños adapt to MLS? Bolaños arrives eager for a fresh start after a checkered career in Ecuador. Considered by many to be one of the finest products Ecuador has ever produced, Bolaños has plenty to prove in MLS. If the 21-year-old playmaker can settle in, he is expected to push LaBrocca for a spot in the midfield. 2. Can Chivas USA learn to finish games? Costly errors in possession cost the Rojiblancos points down the stretch. With the additions of Minda, Valencia and James Riley, Fraser hopes that his team will be able to turn some of those draws and losses into victories. If they can do that, they may make an impact in the playoff race. What He Said "We're ahead of where we were [this time] last year. We have more talent on our roster top to bottom than we did a year ago at this time. It's a relatively new group because so many players are in, and I just think this group will continue to jell rather quickly." – Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser on the state of his squad ahead of his second season at the helm If Everything Goes Right Chivas USA have undergone a significant overhaul this offseason in the hopes of creating a squad that can maintain its focus throughout entire matches. If they can learn to close games consistently, they'll challenge for a playoff berth in a hyper-competitive Western Conference.