Monday, November 5, 2007

The Ugly Duckling -- Pt. 1

When you look at the immediate impact Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC [2nd and 4th in league attendance], David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco have had, you begin to analyze MLS's other “promises” more closely.

Obviously both Kansas City and Columbus are in need of help. But both teams can blame historically poor performances. Both missed the playoffs in the past 2 seasons and their attendances dropped from 15k to 9k, and from 16k to 12k respectively.

The opposite is true with the team from Carson. As Chivas turns into a more competitive side, their "fan base" has vanished.

Chivas USA's home attendance averages 13,013 per game. But if derby attendance versus Los Angeles Galaxy is excluded, the average drops to 10,000, just above Kansas City.
And while La Legion 1908 scrambles to pull the largest banner in MLS over its members, the seats around them remain abandoned.

For a team that promised to tap into the vast Mexican-American market, and promised to be the biggest draw in MLS, it is baffling that they have only been able to reach a 20k home attendance once for any game that does not involve Galaxy. So far this season, the top deck has only been used for the game versus Galaxy.

Perhaps the problem is that Chivas USA is, by name, contradictory to Club Deportivo Guadalajara’s traditions.

During the 1950s-1960s era of Chivas dominance in the Mexican league, the Sacred Flock gathered supporters thanks to their winning ways and their nationalistic, Mexicans-only policy.
When Television mogul Emilio Azcarraga bought Club America, he immediately aimed to turn his team into the villains of Mexican football, and nemesis to the CD Guadalajara side that was beloved by all.

His method of choice?

Azcarraga put money on the table and sought expensive foreigners; a perfect antithesis to Guadalajara’s model.[Ironically, since Azcarraga’s overhaul, Club America’s titles outnumber Guadalajara’s 9 to 3]

Guadalajara’s supporters only ever support players of one nationality: Mexican. They will support Mexicans playing for Guadalajara, abroad, or for the national team, but never a foreign player.

And if there’s a particular group Guadalajara supporters are specifically opposed to, it’s Americans, even Mexican-Americans. In 1998, Gerardo MascareƱo played 10 games with Guadalajara before controversy regarding his American birth left him off the team.

It is an Oxymoron to put the words Chivas and USA together and expect Guadalajara supporters to embrace this image. Because doing so would require them to support foreign players from various nationalities, including Americans. That is something that Guadalajara fans are unlikely to do. Guadalajara’s traditions will keep Guadalajara’s supporters, and others of different backgrounds in the Los Angeles area from adopting Chivas USA.

If the organization wishes to grow with the team’s recent on-field success, they must abandon the City of Guadalajara badge, drop the Chivas USA moniker and re-brand into the alternative to Los Angeles Galaxy, like Club America did with them in 1959. Otherwise, they must cope with low attendances and the decreased sponsorships that will follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you blogged this. I love reading it over again. They really need to rebrand themselves and find their own place.