PORTLAND. Former Chivas USA midfielder Daniel Antúnez of Santa Ana, CA scored a game-winning goal for his new team Arizona United versus the Portland Timbers U-23 team.
Antúnez missed most of last season due to a knee injury suffered in a match at the Home Depot Center against the Colorado Rapids. Last season Antúnez started to get more and more minutes eventually becoming a starter while earning the trust of former coach José Luis Sánchez Solá, aka Chelís.
The U.S. Open Cup is the longest-running soccer tournament in this country, pitting nationwide amateur and professional leagues in competition. Arizona United are in their inaugural year in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division. The Portland Timbers Under 23 team, an affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, competes in the USL Premier Development League.
The match from Portland is archived in its entirety on YouTube. The action begins at the 18’45″ mark:
The Santa Ana Winds Football (Soccer) Club, formerly of the National Premier Soccer League, have resurfaced with a much-improved, and sorely needed, team crest. But they still don’t have a home field in Santa Ana proper. Instead, this team plays some of its “home” games in Aliso Viejo. And the team still doesn’t have its online presence down. Their dot com is inoperable and there’s no Twitter account. It’s shameful. Why re-brand if you’re not going to set your brand to market? The point is to project it and have a presence, make a mark, get on the map, get on the radar.
Santa Ana is flooded with soccer leagues, seemingly all competing with each other for fields. Santa Ana’s Parks & Recreation Director Gerardo Mouet said that these leagues tend to fight over Santa Ana’s Soccer Complex at Centennial Park, for example.
Because of this lack of organized soccer leagues in Santa Ana, it makes it difficult to unite behind a common goal, one that ideally has a pro-level or semi-pro team representing the city. No, it doesn’t have to be a Major League Soccer club, but perhaps one in the NPSL or maybe even the NASL. The truth is, any better-organized club at whatever level bearing the city’s name is better than the scattered, bickering teams and unaffiliated amateur leagues that aren’t really thinking of forming behind a common Santa Ana name, which would only be good for the city’s projection and brand.
Santa Ana could have an elevated profile in competitive soccer if the field at Centennial were better utilized and marketed. There’s also the new field at Santa Ana College, which is available for rent. But there’s been no team, or business plan, that has effectively identified with, and led to cementing a semi-pro to professional level soccer team bearing Santa Ana’s name.
What we have instead is one giant squandered opportunity given all of the talent here combined with the lack of a team with the inability to capture the Santa Ana soccer market.
The Mexican Men’s National Team coach Miguel “El Piojo” Herrera is coming to Santa Ana for this city’s Cinco de Mayo celebration downtown.
Herrera is scheduled to appear for an hour according to the city’s Parks and Recreation Director, Gerardo Mouet. The exact time and day is yet to be confirmed.
Santa Ana has traditionally hosted many “A level” Mexican celebrities for its Cinco de Mayo and Fiestas Patrias in September, the likes of Juan Gabriel, Lupita D’Alessio, Moderatto, Aleks Syntek, Miguel Rodarte, Héctor Jiménez and many more.
The tradition continues this year with the highly visible Miguel Herrera.
“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.
Chivas USA President Nelson Rodríguez spoke during halftime of the NY-CHV game last Sunday to address matters of the club’s future and current state.
Rodríguez is an optimist and he’s convinced of what the club can do. That’s great. That’s what this organization needs. His mission is to turn Chivas USA into an attractive, winning club, in order for the league to sell it.
But the club’s president is unaware of any buyers, and this is a troubling revelation. He defers those questions to the higher-ups at MLS HQ. The league stated at its point of acquisition of the club that it would lead negotiations for landing a stadium for Los Angeles FC/SC. This is also a very critical detail in this whole handling of Chivas USA. It is accepted that the league has been making decisions for Chivas USA going back a few years. Chivas USA had some options for building a stadium in the LA area, but it is known that the league wants a stadium at Exposition Park, at the site of the LA Sports Arena, which is expected to be demolished by its new owners, the University of Southern California. This reveals more of the league’s bullish attitude about its preferred locations for its franchises. It is said that in this era of “MLS 3.0″ that the league wants to have urban core stadiums instead of suburban ones, located away from downtown districts, etc. This, in part, helps to explain why nothing happened with the Chivas to Santa Ana proposal some years back, which was the most realistic possibility for the club back then, and the closest they got to getting real political support.
The league wanted a stadium for NYCFC in Queens and couldn’t deliver. The status of NYCFC’s stadium plan is currently non-existent and is one gigantic question mark. MLS wants a stadium at their first choice, Port Miami, for Beckham’s investment group, but the status of that plan is far from substantial. It’s this same attitude that the league is applying for LAFC/SC. MLS is leading talks with USC, or at least they’re trying to revive those talks, because the league wants a stadium there to serve its interest and profile first and foremost. To boil it down, MLS forcibly wants to manufacture two teams in NY and LA, maybe because they’re feeling the heat brought on by the NASL. MLS is probably right not to underestimate them.
So MLS is at the point of having to secure the location they want at USC’s Expo Park before they find a buyer. The league is essentially telling a potential buyer where to build.
On the upcoming Clásico Angelino
Last season Chivas USA had more LA-born and bred talent on its roster than the LA Galaxy did. Fast forward and Chivas USA have been completely dismantled this season, with a club being built to resemble models of previous seasons. Gone is the emphasis on a regional identity, as this time around, Chivas have 3 Argentinians–something never done before at Chivas USA. The three Argentinians Leandro Barrera, Mauro Rosales and Agustín Pelletieri now fill the spots of Bryan de la Fuente, Eric Avila (who was pushed back to right defensive back), and “Chore” Mejía who was sent to Puebla.
These drastic measures were taken in order to at least try to build a more competitive (and ultimately more valuable monetarily) club in order to attract a buyer in the LA area, who’ll commit to building a stadium at the league’s preferred site at Exposition Park.
Sporting wise, the club currently known as Chivas USA (to be named Los Angeles FC or Los Angeles SC) are on better footing and are more competitive than last year’s model. Chivas USA went toe-to-toe with last season’s Supporter’s Shield winner (the team with the best overall record) in the New York Red Bulls just last Sunday and are poised to give the Galaxy a hard time just as well. Actually, Chivas USA stayed in some close games with strong teams last season, but suffered due to inconsistency caused by frequently redrawn starting lineups and injuries. The task this season will be for the club to keep a consistent lineup in order to get consistent results. Four games in, Chivas have only lost once, which is a good sign.
Chivas USA have to win the games that matter the most, particularly those against the Galaxy, and never more so than this season, as odd as that may sound. Now is the time for Chivas USA to deliver because the club’s future is at stake. What owner is going to buy a broken franchise failing to sell tickets and build them a stadium on top of that, on prime real estate land? Results matter more than ever now for this club and a sense of duty is felt from the club’s president Nelson Rodríguez to the coach and players. Truly, Chivas USA’s 2014 campaign is a balancing tight rope act if ever there was one. But they do look more solid and will hopefully keep the form they started with throughout the season.
Originally published on March 14, 2014 at SoccerNewsday.com.
Has Major League Soccer been doing business as Chivas Guadalajara Licensing?
Who exactly is, or was, behind Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC, the corporation that registered the marks Los Angeles SC and Los Angeles FC with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office?
At first glance it may seem that a corporation with that name belongs to the former ownership group, but not necessarily.
It turns out Chivas Guadalajara Licensing, LLC, was an entity first formed in the state of Delaware on Aug. 2, 2005. This same entity was later registered in California 3 months later.
It turns out that Major League Soccer was also incorporated in the State of Delaware on July 24, 1999. Four months later, MLS LLC was registered in the state of New York on Nov. 13, 1999.
Also significant in this matter is the registering of Soccer United Marketing LLC, first in the State of Delaware on Feb. 22, 2002 then in the State of New York on January 14, 2003. This is the marketing arm of MLS that promoted matches in the U.S. like Chivas Guadalajara vs. Barcelona years back, and those involving the Mexican Men’s National Team.
What we get is this pattern of entities first being incorporated and registered in Delaware, followed by registration in other states, all roads and signs point there.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s listing for Chivas GDL LLC has Alan Blum as its attorney of record. A search for him reveals that he’s based in Manhattan.
What gets more intriguing is learning that Blum is the listed trademark attorney for MLS also, in MLS’ USPTO listings. Is it mere coincidence that the entities Chivas GDL LLC and MLS share the same attorney? Given that this attorney is so closely linked to both entities, is there a possibility that the league was acting as Chivas Guadalajara LLC through a fictitious name/DBA?
A number of questions arise. Was the registering of Los Angeles SC and Los Angeles FC done cooperatively with MLS and Vergara? Yes, in part. Chivas GDL LLC looks like a joint venture between the league and the former ownership, but done through a fictitious name, because of the technicalities in licensing the Chivas brand.
Oh, and guess who is SUM’s trademark attorney? That’s right, Blum.
The MLS/Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC relationship wasn’t solely for marketing Chivas USA. That entity had U.S. promotional and commercial rights to the brands Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. (Sociedad Anónima de Capital Variable), Club Guadalajara and Rebaño Sagrado. Then the entity trademarked Los Angeles SC and Los Angeles FC. This gets us to the next obvious question.
What happens to Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC now that Vergara was bought out? Garber said that the LASC and LAFC marks were dead, but the USPTO listed them as live before, during and after his stating the opposite. The marks were never dead – the catch is that they were “dead” to the entity Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC after the Vergara buyout, but live to MLS LLC. All that was needed was a transfer of those marks to MLS.
What’s also insightful is that the corporation in question is listed as a domestic one and first in the state of Delaware. So the Chivas GDL Licensing owner is not (was not) foreign-based, where Vergara’s main operation is, foreign. For example, the Chivas Regal brand has an owner (Chivas Holdings) listed in the USPTO and based in the UK.
It looks like Major League Soccer was already planning to acquire the marks Los Angeles SC and Los Angeles FC, but first through the fictitious name Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC.
Major League Soccer is starting to disappoint with the now too-common lip service and hype coming from the higher-ups in charge of the league.
There’s a pattern of contradictory statements made by the league’s commissioner involving the awarding of franchises to ownership groups and cities while ignoring the tantamount criteria of having a soccer stadium in place, prior to the awarding of a franchise.
The league and the commissioner have gone back on those words by allowing the league’s newest team, New York City FC, to enter the league without a stadium, nor a team, nor a youth academy, nor a timetable for a stadium, nor the political support to build a soccer-specific stadium within the 5 NY boroughs.
What’s more, the league failed at capitalizing on the Chivas brand. The demise of Chivas USA was not simply the former ownership’s fault. The Chivas USA plan was part of a package to allow Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, known as Soccer United Marketing, to commercialize and promote the brands Chivas de Guadalajara S.A. de C.V., Club Guadalajara and Rebaño Sagrado in the United States. The league and the Chivas owners did this through the establishing of the joint venture Chivas Guadalajara Licensing, LLC, which was registered in Delaware in 2005. This turned out to be nothing more than hype, even if the original plan was well-intended. Garber later admitted that it was a failure of execution in part by the league.
While many were ecstatic to see Chivas USA sold to the league, some even thinking that this was “the season that changed MLS,” reality quickly set in when it came time to compete in the regional championship, the CONCACAF Champions League. This year, again, MLS clubs failed to advance and earn that coveted international prestige and notoriety that comes with becoming the North American Champion, along with with a ticket to FIFA’s international tournament, the Club World Cup. And every year there is MLS hype about how Mexican teams are withering or accessible (what was said about the 2011 Monterrey-Real Salt Lake Champions League final), and how this could be the year to take it all, and every year there is a blowout suffered to Mexican teams. Not just a blowout, but a real “soccer” clinic–a dismantling and bombardment involving up to 5 and 6 goals.
The shortcomings of MLS are similar to the Mexican Soccer Federation’s in that Mexico has put marketing and hype before the on field national team product. Now MLS has taken a page from that with its marketing entity known as Soccer United Marketing.
The evidence is everywhere; Beckham, Henry, Cahill. All of these players are put before MLS academies are producing enough pro players and getting them first team minutes. One thing is to sign a homegrown talent, it’s another to give a homegrown talent real MLS minutes.
The situation with Beckham’s Miami team to be echoes NYCFC’s. There’s no timetable for a stadium, still there’s political and commercial opposition for the proposed site, and worse is that there’s no name for that Miami club. It’s all talk. Meanwhile, the NASL has 3 pro teams in Florida in Tampa Bay, Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville.
Talk is all that MLS to Queens turned out to be, talk is all that Beckham’s Miami is right now, and
talk is all that a second MLS team in LA is as well. These three stadium situations; NYCFC, Miami and LA 2 mirror one another. Why? Because the league wants glitz and glamour first and foremost. The first choice in NY was a failed attempt. Miami doesn’t look anything better and even less does “LA 2″ look realistic at this point. At least Miami has identified an ownership group. In baseball terms MLS has one strike against it with the Queens debacle with two swings left in Miami and LA 2.
“By the way, we’re pretty good at it,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in reference to building soccer specific stadiums.
“Chivas USA will become a champion and protagonist in MLS,” said Jorge Vergara.
The Goat Parade is the top independent source for all things Chivas USA, and one of the longest-running. TGP delivers morenews with more frequency including game previews, reviews, coverage of the Chivas Academy, a podcast through a partnership with the What the Flock?, and more.
My thanks to Alicia Rodríguez, managing editor of The Goat Parade and freelance editor to Major League Soccer for allowing me this opportunity.