Chivas USA hires Martin Vasquez as coach

Martin Vasquez imagined many times his aspiration to become coach of Chivas USA.

He shared that dream two years ago with Shawn Hunter, the team’s president and chief executive, and with Antonio Cue, the team’s part-owner. He did it shortly after becoming an assistant coach with Bayern Munich.

“The very last thing I said to him,” Hunter said, “was it would be an honor for me to introduce you as the head coach at Chivas USA.”

That finally happened Wednesday when Vasquez, 45, was hired as the club’s fifth head coach. Vasquez replaces Preki, who guided Chivas USA to three playoff appearances but couldn’t advance beyond the first round and left by mutual agreement with the club.

“Getting this opportunity was a goal and at one time was a dream,” said Vasquez, who was a Chivas USA assistant from 2005 to 2007.

It has come full circle for Vasquez.

He was a standout at Alhambra High and Cal State Los Angeles from 1980 to 1983, becoming the only player to play for the Mexico and U.S. national teams and had assistant coaching stints with Cal Poly Pomona, the San Diego Spirit of the Women’s United Soccer Assn. and the Galaxy.

“We felt Martin’s passion, his knowledge for the league, his knowledge of soccer in the United States and abroad made him uniquely qualified,” said Stephen Hamilton, vice president of soccer operations for Chivas USA.

There’s plenty of decisions ahead, including possible roster changes.

“We’re already in the process,” Vasquez said. “I hope the experience as an assistant coach helps me make the right decisions.”

On Wednesday, though, he embraced the moment.

“There’s been a lot of hard work in hoping one day I would get this opportunity,” Vasquez said. “When you have those goals and work every day, it’s very special.”