ALL FIRED UP Guevara plans to recapture his game, his past glory vs. Chivas Saturday
Amado Guevara: "I have to be me. My personality's been changed for that pressure. That's who I am. MLS has pushed me to be somebody else who I'm not."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Remember the old Amado Guevara who used to lead the MetroStars attack, scored dramatic, 11th-hour game-winning goals and argued with referees on a regular basis?
Well, at least Guevara promises he will be for the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Admitting that he changed his playing personality and game to suit the league and media criticism, a sometimes defiant Guevara on Wednesday said that he plans to play with fire and passion against C.D. Chivas USA in Carson, Calif. (MSG, 10 p.m.).
If it means accruing some yellow cards along the way, so be it.
Guevara realized that he has to play with emotion if he is to be an effective player.
"I have to be me," the midfielder said after practice at the Giants Stadium bubble. "My personality's been changed for that pressure. That's who I am. MLS has pushed me to be somebody else who I'm not."
Guevara said he has been fined a total of $7,000 by MLS the past three seasons. Sometimes the sanctions have been for his controversial comments to the media. Other times it has been for yellow cards and subsequent suspensions, mostly for referee dissent.
Guevara, who will turn 30 on Tuesday, said he would prefer not to pay any fines if he had his way.
"I don't want to pay it," he said through an interpreter. "You know what? They turned me into a cold player."
Red Bulls coach Mo Johnston said that he will pay half his fines if the Honduran international returns to his old, fiery ways, according to Guevara. "Just be you," Guevara said Johnston told him. "Play like before. . . . Just do what you have to do."
For the second consecutive year, Guevara leads all Red Bulls in salary, earning a guaranteed salary of $281,250, according to the Thursday editions of the Washington Post. Guevara can obviously afford the fines, but that's not the point.
Guevara's performance this season has been sub-par. "Amado realizes he has not played to his potential," Johnston said.
Much has been expected from Guevara, who has averaged eight goals and 10 assists in his first three seasons. Guevara finished with career highs of 11 goals and 11 assists in 2005 after securing MVP honors and sharing the MLS scoring crowd with New England's Pat Noonan the previous season.
He has a goal this season and one yellow card (he has averaged eight cautions a year). Moreover, Guevara hasn't been a force on attack, playing well below his potential and expectations.
"I was the MVP, I was the scoring leader because it was me, what I can call Amado Guevara," he said. "Right now, I am afraid to do any more. That's going to change. It's not me on the field.
"If I know I get support from the team, support from the coach . . . we will see a difference in L.A."
Guevara was brought to the Red Bulls (when they were the Metros) by coach Bob Bradley. Bradley coaches Chivas, whom the Red Bulls visit on Saturday (MSG, 10 p.m.).
"I think in the three years we spent together here, he knows what I''m doing," Guevara said. "He knows me well and I don't have to show anything. He knows. Three years in the past tells him what kind of player I am.
"More than anything, we need to win for us."
Not surprisingly, Guevara is not satisfied with the club's 0-1-3 start.
Asked how he felt about the team's performance, Guevara pointed to the league standings posted on a board in the players' lounge.
"That's how I feel so far, that we are one place from the bottom of the Eastern Conference," he said. "Fortunately, it just started. It's not the end of the world. We definitely are going to try to win and get a good result on Saturday.
"And after that, I'll train specially and try to straighten my head and put everything focused on the championship."