Today at a press conference in Beverly Hills, Jorge Vergara confirmed what we have been hearing for a couple of weeks. He announced plans to make the team more Hispanic, saying the club’s previous attempts at this, and playing in MLS, had failed. He set a goal of two years for reaching the playoffs, and stated once this happened, they hoped to remain at that competitive level.
As far as stadium plans go, the organization is still on the prowl for a new home. Vergara would like a downtown LA location, and even hinted at the possibility of playing in the Coliseum. A team in Texas was mentioned as offering "the stars and the moon" for the franchise to move there. However, Vergara said that the team would not be leaving Los Angeles. He also brought up that rumor of Chicharito coming to Chivas USA a few years back, and that Preki, the coach at the time, said he wasn’t good enough. Glad he could provide us with some great entertainment there.
This biggest news of the day was on the personnel front, and quite frankly, it wasn’t really news at all. Jose Domene will be staying on with the organization as administrative director, and Johan Cruyff will serve as an advisor, much like he does for Guadalajara. From my understanding, Cruyff hasn’t had the best record at Guadalajara, so this is a bit dissatisfying. At the same time, it shouldn’t come as a complete shock considering his role for Guadalajara. The "news" of the day was that there is no coach as of yet. However, Cruyff will be announcing the coach within the next 10 days. They are looking at candidates from Mexico, Argentina, the Netherlands, and the USA.
If you followed the press conference at all via Twitter, I’m sure you say a lot of the hullabaloo and attention this all got. As annoying as it was for me to read the opinions of people who just like to criticize this team and organization, I can’t say those thoughts are misplaced.
First off, I would like to say that this type of announcement cannot be good for the current players on the squad. Many of them had no idea what was happening prior to today, and I can bet this just puts them at greater unease. I find this extremely unprofessional, and just outright rude.
I do not believe that the "re-Mexicanization" (as Chivas USA Beat Writer Luis Bueno calls it) of this organization is the way to go. With a name like Chivas USA, the club will always be in the shadow of the mother ship. It’s a matter of creating it’s own entity away from the mother ship that should be the plan. The attempts to have an all-Mexican team in 2005 failed miserably (as Vergara acknowledged). Continuing the trend of bringing in players from Chivas Guadalajara isn’t the answer to fixing this failing organization. It will only add to its downturn. There’s no way he would risk bringing top players from his Mexican team to feature on this squad. Vergara said they would also have youth prospect come over from Guadalajara, which, if they’re only here to get some play in before heading back, is extremely disappointing. We all remember how 2005 turned out (last place). However, a coaching staff and an organization willing to bring in productive players CAN turn this around.
The organization’s track record of being extremely frugal with player acquisitions is one of the root causes of the team’s failures. I’m not saying they should bring in so many big name DP’s, but with strategic planning, a solid team can be formed if a bit cash is spent. Just look at the Houston Dynamo – they have a coach who knows how to play the league and playoff system, and have a team with depth that will probably contend every year. They were able to do this by qualifying for the CCL, which game them more slots and cash to use, but this couldn’t have been achieved without investing in the initial roster. We’ve seen some attempts at this in the past couple of years, but not to the extent it needs to be done. At the end of the day, the right decisions need to be made in terms of bringing in the best overall options, not players who fit a certain mold for the face of the organization. That should be second, not first, in the overall scheme.
As for the stadium, that’s another risk here. None of us want to continue renting out the Home Depot Center from AEG. However, with the state of the team right now, I’m not sure that finding a new place will help, especially building one. If the team can make a strong turn around, then we’ll talk. But as of right now, what’s the point? I don’t believe that AEG’s renting rules regarding not allowing a whole lot of team paraphernalia around the stadium is a major deterrence to fan attendance. Fan attendance was fairly decent when the team was performing well in the league, but only plummeted when the team did so as well. I just don’t see this as being as much of a priority as the team is making it. Sure, the plan is to have the stadium in the next few years, but again, if the plan to make the playoffs in 2 years fails, where will that leave them?
A prime example of how this could go wrong is Guadalajara’s own stadium problems. Since the Estadio Omnilife opened a few years back, attendance has struggled due to location, ticket prices, and poor form from the team. It may pick up now that Guadalajara is in the playoffs this year, but there’s no guarantee. I would presume a downtown LA location for Chivas USA would bring ticket prices up. The location would be ideal for some, but less for a lot of others, not to mention we all despise LA traffic. That along with the team’s poor form would not have good results for the organization at all. This is not a risk they should be evaluating just now.
Obviously the next 10 days will be critical. Once we know who the coach is, I think it will be obvious where everything else will fit into place While much of what was said today was expected, there was probably some hope in each of us that it wouldn’t come to this. However, we can only move forward and see what happens next.
Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts on today’s press conference, and where the team goes from here? Let us know in the comments!