UPDATE: Major League Soccer was quick to deny this one. “Incorrect,” said the league office.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence this ESPN Deportes report comes the day after the Juan Agudelo sale, but when a well-under the salary cap team gives away one of its best players for nothing but allocation money, you can expect people around the league to take notice. And what they seem to be noticing here is an ownership group that’s not investing in the team, has shown little intention of doing so, and isn’t living up to the league’s minimum operation requirements.
Another way to put that: We may be hearing the death rattle of Chivas USA.
The scenario, as outlined by Alicia Ratterree at Chivas USA blog The Goat Parade, is one which would see MLS operate the club after seizing it from Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara:
If MLS do take the club over, they will likely turn around and sell the team to the highest and/or most sustainable bidder, one that could very likely cause the team to move away from Southern California.
Another possibility: If, for whatever reason, Chivas USA can’t garner a price Major League Soccer deems appropriate (or, if some of that money might end up in the hands of Vergara), MLS could be better suited to fold the team and proceed with 18 teams until expansion cities are deemed ready to go. Why team a discount rate for a broken team from a market that may one day pay full price?
There’s more at Goat Parade, parsing from ESPN Deportes’s reporting, with this particular incident highlighting Vergara’s unique methods of supporting his team (as well as one team blogger’s complete credulity such methods are being used):
Suarez also mentions that he has spoken with a sponsor who was evidently approached by Vergara or Chivas USA brass, asked for $1.5 million, with the express purpose of buying players with that money, then requiring said players to promote that company’s products to the hilt. As Suarez explains, and it makes sense to me, this would essentially be a way to get sponsors to buy players without Vergara having to shell out of pocket, thereby reducing his investment burden. Again, this is just one report, but it certainly seems plausible, doesn’t it?
Before the season started, Chivas USA were already in the spotlight. An apparent sell-off and the inability to secure a local television deal saw let many to wonder whether it was time to end the Chivas USA experiment. But a surprisingly strong start from Jose Luis “El Chelis” Sanchez Sola and his team forced us to reconsider.
As Steve noted recently, that strong start is a thing of the past. After giving away Juan Agedulo, Chivas USA may soon be a thing of the past, too.