|Forever for Guadalajara. Occasionally for LA.|
I cannot say this with enough certainty. Chivas USA will fail again in 2013.
They say the diametric opposite of love is not hatred but apathy and indifference. What Chivas USA's obstinate dedication to its Guadalajara overlords has cultivated — bypassing the obvious year upon year of recently flagging results — is a healthy glaze of flat, impassive, uninterested, cold stoicism. If you're not a Chivas fan — and let's be honest, in all likelihood you are not — you very likely harbor no feelings toward the Mini Goats as a team at all. You may wonder why the thing exists or how it came to be or what the hell the front office is doing most of the time, but as for the team? What team? Chivas' main rivalry is a very clear example. The league brands the Chivas-Galaxy game the SUPERCLASICO, a hilarious bit of hyperbole that overstates the fixture by acres. The Galaxy's rivalry with San Jose trumps the phony, balsa wood fake storefront with the team that has never really owned the stadium in which it plays. The Home Depot Center is the Galaxy's home. Much like its time in MLS, Chivas is merely a tenant paying rent.
So a year after making a series of boneheaded decisions that merely marked the passing of time (leaving Zarek Valentin unprotected in the 2011 expansion draft is a pleasant microcosm for everything incorrect with the franchise — as is this awesome revelation that Chivas turned down a Chicharito loan from its father organization), Chivas' slumlord owner Jorge Vergara lifted his nose out of his Guadalajara ledger long enough to swing his ax again this offseason. Robin Fraser is gone, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is in. Jose Domene is out, Dutchman Dennis te Kloese swags through the door as the new joint sporting director. The last front office shakeup in 2010 was similarly destructive. We wait and see on this one because logic dictates we should, but the ticking clock on the failure of this venture is on for the discerning individual.
Te Kloese will split his time between Guadalajara and Los Angeles, which paints a vivid picture on its own. And then Vergara said this.
“Dennis will decide [how he divides] his time in each of the clubs and obviously I think that the important thing is the team of people in place, above all in Chivas USA,” said team owner Jorge Vergara, speaking via videoconference from Los Angeles.
Nobody, least of all Vergara, believes that. Chivas USA has never been "above all" in Vergara's universe in any sense of the word, and his reticence to commit an overarching personnel decision-maker to his USA arm is damning enough. Te Kloese will dedicate his time to the squeakiest, loudest, most important wheel, which is in Guadalajara. His Los Angeles tie is a half-sized spare, tucked silently into the trunk as the vehicle barrels down the road. Te Kloese all but confirmed this when he called Chivas USA "a project" in his first interview. A project indeed, one that few US citizens were sure about upon its inception and one that seems even more untenable now. I find fewer and fewer reasons for Chivas USA to exist with each passing week.
And then we get to the bottom of the issue: it's that damn USA title. Chivas' successes will always be fleeting so long as it exists in its current format, because within it are the echoes of the franchise's failures and its true overarching aims, most of which are south of the border. And you can find the source of the echo in its name. It cannot connect with such a huge swath of US fans that it makes northward expansion all but impossible. So Vergara, as much as he says he wants to make forays into the heart of the US soccer culture, will continue to mine Mexico for help. Te Kloese is Dutch in name but Mexican in his recent soccer progeny. And as much as Mexicans want to think they own CONCACAF, Vergara's uniquely Mexican project in Los Angeles has so far failed to convince very many Americans that he has any idea what to make of MLS. Or any desire to put his shoulder into the matter.
As a short-term project, Chivas USA was a vanity item and a veiled Vergara power grab cloaked in arrogance. As a long-term project, Chivas USA was made to fail. In lieu of a major organizational reconstruction (or a a complete tear-down and city move, which I favor) Chivas USA will continue its futile dance with Chivas Guadalajara. Its Mexican czars will keep choosing the music, picking the dance steps and will continue to own the dance hall.
Its helpless, rotating renters can merely grin and bear it. For how long is anyone's guess.
- Will Parchman