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Chivatown Post: Fear the Future Edition

What does the future hold for Chivas USA? A name change? A stadium? Will we see a winning era built on the foundations of the Academy?

Chivas USA Academy product Marco Delgado
Chivas USA Academy product Marco Delgado

"Fear the future" has a double meaning. It can be an intimidation to opponents or it can be a matter of self-reflection for fans. Really, it boils down to whether you see the glass half-empty or half-full.

After Saturday's loss to San Jose, Chivas USA and Jose Luis Real were quick to point out that Chivas USA is a young team in the process of maturing, and building for the future.

The organization was quick to celebrate Chivas USA's U-23 winning a California state championship in the newly formed SoCal Premier U-23 league. Chivas opted on not fielding a team in, or forming a partnership with a USL PRO club this inaugural year of the MLS-USL partnership, but MLS requires all of its teams to do so by 2015.

For an excellent post on the Chivas USA U-23 championship squad, click here.

That Chivas USA is betting on developing youth to fill its pro ranks is based on Chivas de Guadalajara's philosophy and approach. It's one that tries the patience of fans from here to Zapopan (a suburb of Guadalajara where the new Chivas stadium was built), because it's not a model that brings immediate results. Instead, that model requires a process. It's one either defended or harshly criticized by Mexican analysts. But when it works, you get a Chicharito, Carlos Salcido, and Carlos Vela etc. The trade off is the possible maiming of the team due to sending its players off to European teams.

Looking towards building a better future, it becomes necessary to learn from the mistakes of the past. Sports writer Eduard Cauich identifies what he thinks are three main problems why Chivas USA doesn't draw much attendance (Spanish). He argues that the club was flawed from its inception because of its name, that they never found their own stadium, and that they suffer from an identity crisis.

What's in a name?

Cauich cites the example of the former Kansas City Wizards, who rebranded themselves (as Sporting Kansas City, of course) and built a stadium, and how Chivas could do the same. With the constant reassuring that Chivas will stay in LA, it makes much sense to at least drop USA and place Los Angeles in the team's name. Then it's open to suggestions: Club Deportivo Los Angeles? Club Deportivo Internacional de Los Angeles?

That ever-elusive stadium

With regards to the stadium issue, it's not that Chivas didn't talk to other cities or do market research. The closest Chivas got to landing a stadium deal before the Vergara buyout was with the City of Santa Ana, which passed a memorandum of understanding to enter into formal negotiations with Chivas two years ago. The city did its part but Chivas didn't follow through.

Some blame Vergara for not signing off on whatever Cue wanted to do but I can say this: Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido told me that former Chivas owner Antonio Cue was the problem in not getting a deal done. Pulido told me in October 2012 that Cue wanted the city to fit the bill for housing Chivas, something the mayor refused. But after knowing that Chivas USA is under new ownership, Pulido "is hopeful" that Chivas will consider Santa Ana again. To be clear, "hopeful" does not mean the city is actively engaged in pursuing that possibility. There was a window of opportunity but there's no telling if that will reopen. Again, the ball is in Chivas' court.

On identity

I (and others) have always thought that a lack of identity was one of the most important reasons for Chivas USA's failures over the years. Cauich also identified this problem and cited that Chivas, under Cue, tried racially diverse squads which failed miserably, and which inexplicably drew farther and farther away from players of Mexican descent, entirely away from being anything "Chiva."

It was a systemic failure, one involving scouting that allowed players like Eric Avila, Luis Silva and others, to get away.

I wrote months ago that Chivas USA is on the right track, but we are in a rebuilding and developmental phase. Just as Cauich thinks that a return to an older model won't work, I too think that if our new model doesn't get results in the future, nothing will.

There is no option but to win with what we have, and who we are. It's this or bust, at least as long as we are Chivas.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!