Chivas USA: this thing just isn’t working

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The New York Times has written this morning about the Southern California derby, this country’s version of the SuperClasico, the L.A. Galaxy vs. Chivas USA.

Andrew Lewellen accurately paints this as Haves vs. Have Nots.

Exhibit A, for instance: the fact that David Beckham’s annual salary ($4 million) is more than the salaries of all Chivas USA players combined.

In the bigger picture, in my mind, what the piece really underscores is that Chivas USA doesn’t work. It’s a failed experiment.

And the natural extension to that hard reality becomes: When will MLS give up and start forcing hands, requiring that the club does something about it?

As the Home Depot’s Center second tenant, Chivas has created precious little awareness or brand identity.

That seems like an odd thing to say since this club was basically constructed on a bold bedrock of the most unique brand identity efforts Major League Soccer has ever seen. In 2005, Chivas USA began playing as a partner club to Chivas de Guadalajara, the popular Mexican club.

Ownership wanted to establish a true Chivas USA brand, one closely attached to the mother club’s philosophies. They desired a heavily Mexican team in MLS, both as a marketing platform and as part of a larger strategy to develop talent for the more valuable Mexican league club.

It hasn’t worked; the whys and wherefores are a different conversation.

Again, for me, it’s about what happens going forward. Because sooner or later, Chivas USA will need to one of two things:

  • Move into its own facility.
  • Relocate to another city and start again – possibly with some remaining attachment to Chivas or possibly on a brand new marketing platform.

None of this is easy, because there are Chivas USA fans in the Los Angeles area. Trouble is, there are just not enough of them, which means a lot of money is being left on the table as potentially lucrative markets around the United States continue to look attractive – and potentially profitable.