During halftime of Chivas USA's 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes to close out their season, and perhaps history, team president Nelson Rodriguez spoke to reporters. He answered a variety of questions regarding the reports of the club's demise and what he's learning about the sale of the club.
Rodriguez started on a pretty positive note, all things considered, given the fact that it appears several dozen people, including possibly he himself, are on the cusp of losing their jobs:
"What we have adopted for the past seven, eight weeks is that we have today. And we have the responsibility and the gift of today. And the responsibility is that we have to do the best that we can. And the gift is every day brings the suggestion, some promise of hope, joy. I'm very proud of the front office staff. I'm very proud of the coaches and the players, who have managed to adopt that mentality and pursue each day with a new level of enthusiasm."
At one point, Nick Green, skeptical over the executive's positive outlook on what is at the very least a very weird situation, asked Rodriguez a series of questions about brass tacks:
"No, we don't know [when our last day working will be]."
Do you know when the sale will be completely official? "No."
Do you expect to hear from them? "Yes."
When? "I don't know."
Now, given the flak the front office has been given for carrying on as if nothing is happening, Rodriguez explained the rationale behind pressing forward and planning for the future until being given reason to do otherwise:
"We have to [continue operations for the time being]. I see no alternative. I know it has been this assumed and foregone conclusion that this is it. Imagine a scenario where it isn't. How irresponsible would it be, if we didn't do the things we needed to do or were supposed to do."
One possible rumor was quickly quashed by Rodriguez. One reporter tried to link the very public fact that Sacramento officials are meeting with MLS officials this week, to Chivas' disappearance, saying the club will simply move up to Sacramento. Rodriguez was adamant that would not be happening:
"He asked about...there's an alleged conversation going on this week with the league office about moving the club to Sacramento, and I said no.
"The conditions of sale have always been firm and consistent: the team remains in LA, the owner or managing director resides in LA, and they must build a soccer-specific stadium in LA."
When asked about the actual region that makes up "LA," Rodriguez clarified that it included Orange County, Riverside, but not San Diego.
Then questions turned to Rodriguez's involvement in the sale process. Was he in the loop over discussions about ownership? "No."
"I've not been involved in those negotiations. I was involved in a few discussions with a few of the groups, but that was some time ago," he said.
Does the league keep him up to date on developments? "They've just said, 'Expect the club to be sold this year.'"
What about the players? What happens to them? Rodriguez answered the question with a short-term outlook.
"Well, as far as we're concerned, given that we haven't qualified for the playoffs, we're going to release the players. It's difficult and especially considering the circumstances, I think it's unfair to ask them to continue to train. So we've developed offseason programs for each individual player. We'll start conducting what we call offseason meetings, as early as tomorrow."
There was some confusion as to what he meant by "release the players." A Chivas USA spokesperson clarified following the game that Rodriguez meant effectively that the team would go into offseason mode, and not that the players would all be released from their contracts en masse.
Are they looking ahead to building a roster for next season?
"Like anything else, Wilmer and the coaching staff and I have been having discussions about our player pool here currently and other players that we might like to acquire. We still have the responsibility to prepare as if we're playing next year. We've had those discussions, we've formulated a plan, we have not finalized that plan, because we did want to see how the rest of the year played out."
So, quite a lot to chew on. I know some people who have expressed skepticism that Rodriguez is as in the dark as the rest of us, but given the fact that few leaks have emerged on the story besides the three articles from Brian Straus, Jeff Carlisle and Grant Wahl that have provided all of the details to this point on the reported future of the club, he may in fact be as out of the loop as everybody else.
But frankly, that's immaterial at this point. What's really important is to find out what's going to happen with the future of this club. Of course, you can bet we'll have comprehensive coverage on the developing story.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!