Making his first public appearence regarding the status of Chivas USA since acquiring sole ownership of the club late this past Summer, Jorge Vergara outlined his future plans for the club, which he says will include a more closer affiliation with its parent club, C.D. Chivas Guadlajara, a new head coach, and what he hopes will be a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
“We want to bring back the concept that we started when we decided to become Chivas USA,” Vergara said. “It’s a team that has to become an extension of Chivas Mexico with a different philosophy in a sense of the players, but with the same philosophy of how to play football, how to be exciting, how to be spectacular, and of course, how to be successful.”
The team was founded on August 29, 2004 and began play in Major League Soccer in 2005. After a dismal inagural season in which it went 4-22-6, Chivas started to turn the corner, making the playoffs for the next four seasons, the first in 2006 under Bob Bradley and the last three under Preki. Chivas USA’s best season came in 2007, when it went 15-7-8 and won the Western Conference regular season title, but for all the success it enjoyed in the regular season during that span, it could never translate that success into the playoffs, as the team lost in the first round all four years, and the team’s playoff failures from 2007 to 2009 eventually cost Preki his job. The last three years have been forgetable for the Goats, as they have went 23-50-24 over the last three seasons, finishing at or close to the bottom of the Western Conference each time.
Vergara cited two factors for the club’s recent struggles. One factor was the attempt by Chivas USA management to distance themselves from that of Chivas Guadalajara. Vergara pointed out that he offered his U.S. counterparts the services of Manchester United’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez for a season, but was rebuffed by the Chivas USA staff. Another factor Vergara cited was Chivas USA’s attempt to emulate the style of most MLS teams, which relied mostly on strength and athleticism.
“We became nothing,” Vergara said. “We didn’t play like the U.S. and we didn’t play like the Mexicans, we played like nothing, and the best proof was the last season we had.”
One of the many questions that Vergara addressed was the management structure of the team. He stated that Jose Domene, the team’s General Manager, will remain as the team’s Administrative Director and that Johan Cryuff will come on as an advisor, a role he currenlty serves with Chivas Guadalajara. One of the first tasks for the new administration is to choose a replacement for Robn Fraser, who was fired as head coach last week. Vergara stated he hopes to have a head coach in placewithin the next ten days and that Cruyff will be the main desicion-maker on the new head coach. Vergara said that they looked at canidates from Mexico, Argentina, and the Netherlands.
Another pressing issure for Chivas is its quest to find its own stadium. It’s no secret that Vergara prefers a stadium located near downtown Los Angeles and one site that has been talked about is a site at the LA Memorial Coliseum in cohorts with USC. In that scenario, the stadium would be built at the current site of the LA Sports Arena. Vergara said he hopes to restart those talks with USC to see if they’re still interested. Vergara also said that he has had overtures from other cities to move his team there, but was adamant that the team would be staying in Los Angeles for the near future.