Chivas USA had only a few positives this season, but there is one area where the club succeeded and that is in reintegrating with their academy and in adopting a policy favorable to locally-born players. In doing so, Chivas USA is forging and cementing itself as a true LA team. Granted that the Galaxy also has many LA area-born players on its roster, but the task of building a locally-heavy first team is emphasized by Chivas.
One of the prickliest thorns, for some people, is the issue of establishing a vertical identity from the academy all the way up to the first team.
Many people may not know that Chivas de Guadalajara started off called Club Unión, founded by the Belgian Edgar Everaert, in the early 20th century. The club originally fielded players of European ancestry including some of French, English, and Spanish origins, but they also included Mexican players. A perceived imbalance on the squad, and a growing distrust of non-Mexican nationals during the Mexican Revolution (then-president Porfirio Díaz was seen as too favorable to Europeans) is how their Mexican-only, or more appropriately said, local-only policy was forged.
It's almost mirroring that Chivas USA for most of its early history, also followed the same pattern. In some seasons there were hardly any locally-born players, or players of Mexican descent, which led to the criticisms concerning the club's identity. Was it an extension of Guadalajara? All of this led to talk of Chivas USA's identity crisis, as Eduard Cauich pointed out.
Now Chivas USA is forging a more locally-based club, drawing on true Angeleno born and bred talent. That is a success in itself and it defeats both arguments that Chivas USA is not American or too Mexican. Instead Chivas USA is unique unto itself and unique to this region.
Los Angeles has the necessary demographics to support Chivas and the Galaxy and it is much, much more difficult to be a Chivas USA supporter. But Chivas USA drew greater numbers in years past, showing what fans want to see most: wins.
The ethnicity of this or any other club matters not so long as it wins. Proof of this is the low attendance at Estadio Chivas-Omnilife, where fans simply don't follow based on their identity and pride.
That Chivas USA re-established a structure with its academy with different scouts, and that now Chivas emphasize drawing from local talent is a success, because that is what they set out to achieve. This philosophy also explains why they've not given as much importance to college draft picks going forward. Chivas need to translate success at the academy levels to the first team, but that success remains to be seen, and only time can tell and affirm if we're on the right track, or not.
Maybe we'll rebrand to reflect the name of the city, as Club Unión did. Maybe we'll keep the Chivas nickname as Club Deportivo Guadalajara did. One thing is certain. So long as we are part of the same Chivas ownership, we are Goats, we are Chivas. Any change in ownership and we will cease to exist. That is what many MLS fans want to see, the disappearance of the Chivas name. Is that we want to see?
What do you think? Leave a comment below!