The lowlights: 10 lowest moments of the Vergara era at Chivas USA

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One word keeps cropping up: disaster

You may have heard Thursday that Chivas USA was bought by Major League Soccer. Given the fact that everybody except perhaps the family pet had a complaint about former owner Jorge Vergara at one point or many, we thought it would be a good time to run down some of the biggest lowlights from the Vergara era, in no particular order:

  • "Adios soccer. El fútbol esta aquí": A new brand must be bold in order to differentiate itself from all of the other entertainment options out there. Going with "Goodbye Soccer. Fútbol is here" is very bold. Maybe it was too bold. In addition to the Chivas brand itself, which sounded great on paper but hasn't proven to be the magnet Vergara and the league were expecting, the slogan rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and put the franchise on a poor footing that in some respects they never recovered from.
  • Sending subpar players from Mexico to Chivas -- twice: In 2005, the team was stocked with a handful of MLS veterans, a few Chivas de Guadalajara veterans, and a slew of young American and Mexican players who had never played near the MLS level before. The result? Disaster. Chivas only won four games their first season and the roster had to be retooled midseason. Fast forward to 2013. How was the team stocked? With a handful of MLS veterans, a few Chivas de Guadalajara veterans, and a slew of young American and Mexican players who had never played near the MLS level before. The result? Disaster, though this time they won a full six games.
  • Trying to make Chivas USA the explicit farm team of Chivas de Guadalajara: Amidst the complete makeover promised by Vergara after taking full ownership of the team in late 2012, there were whispers that Chivas USA could effectively become a farm team of Chivas de Guadalajara, not a truly first division team in a first division league. Though he was eventually fired by Vergara midway through his only season in charge of CUSA, Chelís publicly admitted the club's strategy to send players who needed seasoning to the MLS side and taking the top eligible Chivas USA players to Chivas de Guadalajara.
  • Vows to get team in MLS Cup final in two years, then has by far the lowest payroll in the league: Big goals are admirable. But while luck can always help in life, prudent planning is necessary to achieve goals. When Jorge Vergara discussed buying the remaining 50 percent of the club from the Cue brothers in November 2012, he said his goal was to get the Goats in the MLS Cup final in two years. There's still a year to go on that, so maybe it can happen, but his team in 2013 had by far the lowest payroll in the league. Spending the most doesn't guarantee a title, but spending far less than everybody else was a disaster.
  • Reddit rents a plane to fly "VERGARA OUT" message during SuperClasico: A group of MLS fans had enough of Vergara's mismanagement by the summer of 2013, and created and supported a funding campaign to protest the owner. Ultimately, the protest, started on Reddit's MLS page, led to a plane flying an electronic banner ad with "FUERA VERGARA #VERGARAOUT" scrolling during halftime of Chivas' June 2013 match against local rivals LA Galaxy.
  • No show: He spends the weekend in Los Angeles, tells everybody he's coming to the Chivas game against Real Salt Lake in May 2013, but never shows up. This, after the communications staff tells reporters he would be coming.
  • Failing to have a local TV contract for most of 2013, even though MLS Commissioner Don Garber said at the beginning of the year that it was a requirement of all teams in the league. Way to cultivate fans and make the surviving fans buy a subscription service just to watch their own team play, Jorge.
  • Blaming the Cues for everything under the sun: Though he didn't call them out by name in the now-infamous November 2012 press conference, Vergara buried his former Chivas USA co-owners basically every chance he got in public. From claiming it couldn't get any worse at that presser (it did), he goes back to the well again, and again, and again, and again.
  • The discrimination lawsuit(s): First, the bombshell that came from Teddy Chronopoulos and Dan Calichman's discrimination lawsuit, released to the public to parse through, and boy, were there juicy details, including cracks(?) about the Chinese language, and examples of perhaps the most oblivious executive of all time, Jose David. Then former HR head Cynthia Craig, who was featured in the first lawsuit attempting to exercise damage control, loses her job and files her own discrimination lawsuit. I'm not making this up.
  • Sacrificing Paco: It's one thing to do a terrible job but keep the news within the insular American soccer bubble. It's another to draw the attention of mainstream news organizations for the almost-unheard of reason of racial discrimination lawsuits. When HBO's "Real Sports" investigated Chivas USA's policies throughout the ranks regarding race in the summer of 2013, Vergara compounded the problem by appointing a woefully unprepared Paco Palencia the organization's on-camera representative for the program. Palencia came across as unpolished and dismissive of very real allegations that damaged the club's reputation and embarrassed fans and members of the club alike. While expecting Vergara to face the cameras is perhaps a bit much, sending Palencia was...that's right, a disaster.
What do you think? Have more lowlights? Leave a comment below!
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