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Commentary: Chivas USA is here to stay...

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Hate to break it to all of you Major League Soccer fans.  But Chivas USA is not changing its name anytime soon.  For that matter, it’s not going anywhere else anytime soon.  For all your whining and complaining about how they’d be a better fit in San Diego “closer to Mexico” or rebranded as the Aztecs “because Mexicans would like that”, it’s just not going to happen.  

Like FC Dallas in Frisco and DC United at RFK Stadium, Chivas USA is in it for the long haul.  And in the Los Angeles area no less.  Besides, where would they play in San Diego?  Shoehorning a Soccer field onto Petco Park while sharing it with the Padres will only upset the tenants.  Renting Qualcomm would be a step backwards for a league that wants teams to move into their own facilities.  Even if they could somehow attract 68,000 people for 17 home matches, they’d still be bleeding money.  USD’s Torero Stadium?  How has playing at College stadiums helped the WPS?  Face it, unless there is a plan in place (and how can there be when money talks and land down there is expensive) the Goats aren’t going anywhere.

Waah, waah, but in San Diego you can attract Soccer fans from across the border, waah”.

HA!  With Club Tijuana just promoted to the 1st Division?  With their potential opponents being the likes of Club America, Pachuca, Monterrey, Cruz Azul and Guadalajara?  Forget it.  MLS would be stupid to want to even try and compete with them for attention.  Mexican ex-pats in San Diego will be crossing the border in record numbers to attend those matches.  Face it.  San Diego is not happening.

When people aren’t trying to come up with a magical fantasy site or scenario in San Diego, another topic comes up: "Chivas USA should just give up and re-brand."  One of the names that comes up in the re-branding talk the most is that of the former NASL club, the Los Angeles Aztecs.  On-line message boards light up, quickly turning into a Chivas USA bashing session usually led by torch-and-pitchfork-wielding Major League Soccer fans.

Waah, waah, you making our league a joke, waah” say the pitch fork wielders.

One reason for the re-branding call stems from the alienation that allegedly results from the name.  There are those that feel that Mexican fans who cheer for the likes of Pumas, America, Cruz Azul, etc...have been alienated and will not support a team that represents a Mexican team they don't like.  Then there's the argument that the loyal supporters of Club Deportivo Guadalajara will not support this team because they feel it's an imitation.  For a team that nobody likes, and in return doesn’t like the MLS fan because “they only care about Mexicans”, they do pretty well at the gate.  Last year alone, they came in at #10 in attendance out of 16 teams.  They may not be setting attendance records, or winning championships, but they topped six other teams last year in attendance.  Two of which played in the 2010 MLS Cup.

Others will claim that since the team took on a Mexican moniker, it will alienate non-Mexicans.  And what about the cries for the Aztecs (a Mexican Moniker no less)?  Proponents claim that it'll give the team an identity of its own, give itself history and be able to connect to the Mexican audience that Chivas USA strives for. 

Waah, waah.  You see, like the Sounders, Timbers, and Whitecaps, the nostalgia generated from Aztecs will draw people on a scale Chivas USA wouldn’t.  Waah, waah.

Really?  Because George Best, Elton John, and Johan Cryuff, had such an impact on the sports history of Southern California?  I seem to have missed the Aztecs NASL championship banners still hanging at the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum.  Maybe they’ve been hidden at Weingart Stadium at East LA College all these years.  The fact that those stadiums were nearly empty during the existence of the Aztecs (1974 thru 1981) would seem to indicate that no one cared about them or their “banners”. 

As for the Sounders/Timbers/Whitecaps argument, those three teams were able to survive the decades between the fall of the NASL, and their admittance into MLS by putting out 2nd division teams.  All three teams thrived in the lower echelons of American Soccer, slowly rebuilding their product, while also cultivating the fanbase by keeping them entertained, and keeping the name in the public eye.  The Los Angeles Aztecs called it a day back in 1981 and were never relevant again.  The Aztec Army never beat a drum, nor did the Aztec City Supporters serenade their team after a victory.  So as a fan of Major League Soccer, and Soccer in this country, I say enough with the Aztecs, and enough with “move to San Diego cause that’s where you belong” talk.  The NASL Aztecs were a sub-par team with little history and tradition.