LAFC managing partner Henry Nguyen made a public appearance in Seattle on Sunday, as he participated in a town hall meeting with Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson and Seattle Sounders co-owner Adrian Hanauer. The event, which was kindly taped by the Sounders and uploaded to YouTube, lasts just under a half hour and featured some juicy tidbits on the LAFC front.
Most relevant, perhaps, was Nguyen's discussion of the academy set-up and the continuous criticism (including in this space) on LAFC failing to not only acquire Chivas USA's academy, which is seen to be well-run and successful, but also effectively hand said academy over to the LA Galaxy, following the recent news that Chivas USA academy coach Brian Kleiban would be moving across town to join the Galaxy once CUSA's academy closes this summer.
The first question from the crowd was for Nguyen, asking why LAFC did not take over Chivas USA's academy. Here was Nguyen's response:
Now, now, look. We looked at this very, very deeply, because quite frankly we know that there's a lot of great young talent in the Chivas system. That was one of the very few bright spots of their team. Now, we had a decision to make. And really the decision to make from the very beginning was, we had to start our own history. And we had to kind of put away the negative history and legacy on what Chivas had done. What they had done the past several years really just destroyed any sort of I'll call equity in what they had left over.
And when we looked at their academy system, looked at their young players, we said, 'Well, there are great assets there.' But even just us trying to maintain whatever infrastructure was there, keeps that Chivas legacy on us. And we're a clean break. People always ask me, 'Oh, you guys are replacing Chivas?' No, we're not replacing anybody. We're a brand new club. Chivas had its own history -- it didn't work out.
I'm sorry for the Timbers and the Sounders that maybe some of this young talent will percolate over to the Galaxy academy system, but look, we had to make some choices. And for us, really the choice and the focus is really about where our home is, our stadium. Hopefully there will be news in the very near future that will be exciting for I think the whole league, not just for our club. Because we have the opportunity to build, as one of the new franchises really a hallmark cathedral of soccer here.
I understand the logic, but I simply don't agree with it, at least at this point in time. To me, it seems like the new LA team is cutting off its nose to spite its face by refusing to have any links with CUSA, even those that would be quickly forgotten once a couple of LAFC Homegrown players who once upon a time were in the Chivas USA academy became MLS All-Stars and/or became senior internationals. In addition, successful academies just don't sprout up out of nowhere, even if there is abundant talent in the area.
In other news...
When jokingly asked by Paulson about whether LAFC would be signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Nguyen responded, "No comment," which elicited laughs from those in attendance.
And on being asked about the local rivalry with the Galaxy: "We're going to be the LA team. They're out in Carson. LA vs. Carson is I guess the rivalry," Nguyen said. That line even got laughs from Paulson and Hanauer. Here's hoping the stadium is in LA, then.
You can watch the entire conversation here:
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