Reality Check Time for MLS & Chivas USA

“L.A.S.C.!,” exclaimed the Black Army supporters group in section 138 repeatedly minutes before the kickoff to the 1st edition of the 2014 Clásico Angelino, aka SuperClásico, last Sunday.

Spirits were high in the stands and in section 101, where the Union Ultras take center stage.

But motivation was not enough combined with an awfully deficient Chivas USA squad that failed to string together passes and generate offense.

There is support from people that want an alternative MLS option in LA. The 2014 version of Chivas USA are that team that the league is trying to build to manufacture an LA derby like the league wants to do in NY, but that team on Sunday was completely erased from the field against the Galaxy. And this is insightful if not ominous. And those games against the Galaxy are the ones that this second LA side needs to win above the rest, save for a playoff game or two, if they ever return to the postseason.

Will a rebranded Chivas USA continue to disappoint when matched against the Galaxy fast forward to 2015 or beyond? The first sign, this most recent loss to the Galaxy, is telling.

Maybe it’s the years that the Galaxy have playing on their home pitch, their familiarity with it, that has them dominating Chivas, or most other teams anyway. They have more continuity as a unit and under one coach and one style of play. Speaking of which, the Galaxy’s display on Sunday, their wide style of grounded passing, reminded me very much of CF Pachuca under coach Enrique “Ojitos” Meza, the team that won a Mexican league, 2 CONCACAF Cups, the Copa Sudamericana, and a SuperLiga, this last one they took from the Galaxy.

And it’s the absolute opposite at Chivas USA. There have been 5 coaches at Chivas USA (Preki, Vásquez, Fraser, Real, Cabrera) during Bruce Arena’s time at the Galaxy. What is MLS to do to fix the problem of its 2nd LA franchise? Are they going to continue hitting the reset button every season with a different coach and staff? Again, it’s said that MLS has been steering Chivas USA, in part, years before it’s acquisition of the club.

The team shown on Sunday is not the caliber opponent needed to take on the Galaxy and attract an LA audience and build a market around it. Maybe it was coach Cabrera’s lineup, that started with speedy left-winger Leandro Barrera on the bench, which was a odd. The midfield was a disaster, as 2nd year player Carlos Álvarez is not the seasoned midfield orchestrator and decision-maker that he needs to be. He tends to complicate himself more than necessary when in possession, thus losing it.

The kind of team needed to remain in LA needs a long-term process. This explains why Cabrera was brought on, in part to instill his philosophy in the reputable Chivas USA Academy. He’s stated that he doesn’t emphasize possession…well surely the match on Sunday showed his team deplete of ideas of how to attack when on possession.

To MLS’s credit, they’ve been very patient with their 2nd LA franchise over the years. But now, again, a new process is in order, one drawing from an academy system and one that, hopefully, MLS has all the patience in the world to see develop into an ideal franchise before other expansion-hopeful cities come knocking. It’s back to the drawing board, yet again, with Chivas USA and or Los Angeles FC/SC.


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