Hispanic Tidal Wave Longer on Quantity Than Quality: The Chivas Soccer Club Fiasco
September 05, 2014, 06:28 PM
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As a middle-aged native of Los Angeles, I tend to be more aware than my fellow pundits of both the sheer number of Latinos in America and the manifold impact that has on other Americans, and the surprising lack of competitive threat Hispanics, despite their massive numbers, pose to American elites.

As a case study in Mexican ineffectualness, consider the Major League Soccer team created in Los Angeles ten years ago specifically to be the Mexican team in the league, the embodiment of Reconquista sentiments. Around the world, soccer clubs represent ethnocentrism, so this MLS plan, while cynical, seemed plausible.

And yet, Chivas U.S.A. has been a dismal failure. It’s not clear if the idea or the execution has failed, or both. But it’s another of a long list of examples from Southern California of Mexicans not getting their collective acts together. From the NYT:

A Soccer Team Struggles to Remake Its Identity

Chivas U.S.A. Trying to Escape M.L.S. Doldrums

chivasUSA[1]By BILLY WITZ SEPT. 4, 2014

CARSON, Calif. — … For all the progress M.L.S. has made in recent years — booming success stories in Seattle and Portland and a renaissance in Kansas City, the luring home from Europe of top American players like Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, and a $90 million annual television deal that tripled the previous one — its experience with Chivas U.S.A. has largely been a failure.

When M.L.S. created the club 10 years ago, awarding an expansion franchise to a group led by Jorge Vergara, the brash owner of the Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara, it had high hopes of tapping into Southern California’s large Hispanic market. Vergara boasted that his new team, which would wear the same candy-striped jerseys as its parent club across the border, “would teach the gringos how to play soccer.”

The lessons learned, however, have mostly been in how not to run a franchise. The club had some early success — drafting a handful of future United States national team players and finishing with the best record in the Western Conference in 2008 — but selling the Chivas brand to non-Mexicans and expatriate fans of other top Mexican clubs proved difficult, and poor management decisions were stacked one upon the next. After years of dwindling attendance, declining revenue, cellar-dwelling teams and at least three lawsuits filed by former employees, the league paid millions to buy out Vergara in February.

M.L.S. is operating Chivas U.S.A. this season while it searches for a new owner, who will rebrand the club.