Fans of Major League Soccer might recognize Nelson Rodríguez’s name in connection with league’s disciplinary matters, with the respected executive having recently served as Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations. As of Wednesday, however, Rodríguez has a new title, having been appointed as President of newly league-owned Chivas USA.
“I am thankful for the opportunity and recognize the responsibility in what is an important season for the club,” Rodríguez said in a league statement announcing the appointment. “Regardless of the ownership status, this team and staff will compete on all fronts and we look forward to the challenge.”
The ownership status, of course, is in flux. MLS recently took over the embattled franchise from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes with the intention of running the team for the 2014 season. Come 2015, if all works out, the team will have a new name, logo, and owner.
In the interim, the franchise becomes a league reclamation project. In that respect, there may be no better man for the job than Rodríguez. He’s been on the club side before (with the MetroStars), part of the league’s marketing arm with Soccer United Marketing, and has managed part of the competitive aspect from his former office in New York. Personable, intelligent, respected and experienced, Rodríguez becomes the type of ‘that makes perfect sense’ choice Chivas USA needed during this uncertain period.
“I have had the privilege of working with Nelson for over 14 years and am very pleased that he has agreed to serve as the president of Chivas USA, commissioner Don Garber said in the league’s statement. “Based on his long experience on both the business and sporting side of our game, I have great confidence that he will provide strong leadership for the club during this transition year.”
For those worried that Chivas USA might become an MLS side project, Rodríguez’s appointment is a reassuring step. Previously part of the MLS’s high-level brain trust, Rodríguez probably wouldn’t move make this move to oversee a garage sale, and if one of the critiques of previous management was their status on an island away from the league, Rodríguez’s appointment immediately brings the team back in line with the rest of the circuit.
While anything is possible on the barge Vergara broke, an experienced hand being deployed to Carson hints MLS is serious about getting this ship back on course.