ESPN's Jeff Carlisle got an exclusive interview with MLS Commissioner Don Garber this week following the State of the League address and Q&A session.
It's an interesting interview, to be sure, with Garber talking to an extent about the league's financial position ahead of new CBA talks with the Players' Union, as well as the soaring expansion team fees and questions about whether MLS could go the way of the old NASL.
Of note to local audiences is Garber's comments elaborating somewhat on his remarks about Chivas USA during Tuesday's State of the League talk.
Here's the excerpt from the interview:
ESPN FC: You mentioned yesterday that Chivas USA's owners were "half in, half out." Could you elaborate on that? Was it just that the ownership group was divided or as it the priority they placed on the club?
Garber: Chivas USA is in our rear-view window. We aren't thinking about it at all. What we are focused on is ensuring that the re-launch of our expansion team in L.A. is successful, and that is our sole focus. That is the priority.
As it relates to the particular comment of being half in and half out, what that really was addressing was that we had two different families that owned that team. One owned Chivas Guadalajara, and one was the managing partner of Chivas USA. It was difficult to reach agreement between the two parties on what they believed was the formula for success. That led to a breakup of that group that I had to mediate, and that ultimately led to us buying the team from them and re-launching it with a new expansion team.
Of course, Garber will be asked about Chivas USA from time to time in the coming years, but expect most of the remarks to become more and more clipped. LAFC made it a clear policy on day one to separate themselves from CUSA, and the league is slowly doing the same. I mean, I can't say I blame them entirely -- who wants to be reminded of a failure on a regular basis, especially when things seem to be going well otherwise around the league (i.e. teams are at least competent, and some are even successful, by a number of metrics)?
But it is pretty interesting for Garber to break down starkly that there apparently was some sort of intervention to break up the Cue/Vergara partnership, leading to Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes buying out Lorenzo and Antonio Cue. From reports at the time of that ownership buyout, the Cues didn't have the money to buy out the Vergaras, which is a shame, since they were actually engaged in the team.
But while there are mixed assessments of Vergara's actual spending power, he clearly did not actually invest in the club at all. The attempt to mediate the disagreements between Vergara and the Cues was a disaster, in hindsight, and led to the slow, painful death of the team. Clearly, the partnership situation was untenable, but the solution was nuclear and damaged the league as well as killing the team.
Still, as I keep writing, here's hoping these terrible mistakes are not made again, by LAFC or any other team in the league.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!