Chivas USA have been placing a great deal of emphasis on youth development in 2011. With the inclusion of the Cosmos West Academy into the Chivas set-up and greater publicity about Academy matches and tournaments, the club announced another step in trying to get a leg up on local competition for Southern California youth. They have entered a formal partnership with Orange County youth club United FC. The club, based in San Juan Capistrano, was founded in 1982 and was touted in the press release as "Orange County's leading youth soccer club." I'm not sure of the veracity of that claim, but it is a proactive step by the Goats to expand into another area of the region to try and grab the best talent.
I'm not sure exactly how this partnership will work, so time will tell if United FC will be rebranded under the Chivas USA name, if they will be a feeder club for the Chivas Academy, or if Chivas will mostly work to bolster United's resources and performance while still keeping it as an autonomous entity. I certainly could see any of those things happening, but I don't think the entire club will be absorbed into the Chivas Academy because of the distances involved. I believe the Academy is based in Pomona, while San Juan Capistrano is an hour's drive away (without traffic, which is only at off hours). To me, there's no chance that United's players will commute up to Pomona 2-3 times a week.Again, we'll have to see how this partnership changes the Academy set-up as well as United FC, but again, it's a promising sign for a talent-rich region. In addition to the LA Galaxy, which has a strong youth academy by MLS standards, Chivas are also competing directly with the Tijuana Xolos, who have made very plain their desire to poach top Chicano talent in Southern California. If Chivas USA really want to emulate their sister club Chivas de Guadalajara and build the squad through youth development, this could be a big step in making that happen.
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