C.D. Chivas USA

MLS Sunday Roundup: Colorado and Chicago officially eliminated

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Catch up on Sunday’s MLS action as teams battle for positioning as the regular season winds down.

Chivas USA 1-0 Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake fans may be worried after suffering an ugly loss to bottom dwellers Chivas USA. Nick Rimando saved an Erick Torres penalty to keep RSL alive, but they failed to create much offensively in an embarrassing defeat. Without a stellar performance from Rimando in net, Real Salt Lake could have lost by three or more goals to a Chivas side that has only scored 26 times in 27 games.

[RELATED: Latest MLS standings]

Colorado 1-4 Seattle

Colorado was officially eliminated from playoff contention after being outplayed by one of the best teams in the league. It was the usual suspects for Seattle as Obafemi Martins bagged a brace and Clint Dempsey added a goal and an assist. Tied with Los Angeles for the most points in the league, Seattle is showing no signs of slowing down as they head into the playoffs. Colorado remains winless in their last 11 matches while conceding an astounding 34 goals over the span.

[RELATED: MLS stats]

Chicago 0-0 Montreal

For two teams sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Chicago and Montreal’s match was more about pride than points. Jack McInerney appeared to put Montreal ahead in the 38th minute with a brilliant bicycle kick, only to be called back by a questionable offside call. With the draw Chicago was officially eliminated from playoff contention, marking the fourth time in five years Chicago failed to reach the postseason.

Chivas USA sued by former employee — again

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Former Chivas USA human resources and administrative manager Cynthia Craig filed the second lawsuit in four months against her former employer, Daily Breeze reported on Wednesday. She, like former academy coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, alleges discriminatory practices against non-Latinos at the club.

Most of Craig’s suit is nothing new, as she claims she was “harassed” by the team’s ownership because she could not speak Spanish. Unlike Calichman and Chronopoulos, she was not fired but elected to leave her job.

What the new lawsuit provides is a different perspective on the same phenomena. From her post in human resources, Craig was privy to discriminatory and unjustified termination practices, supposedly being told by owner Jorge Vergara to “just get it done” when he asked her to fire somebody.

One new wrinkle that Craig presents is the allegation that Chivas USA knowingly hired four Mexican coaches in January who had no legal permission to work in the United States. When Craig refused to put them on the company payroll, the owners paid them through their own channels. Those coaches eventually received work visas in April.

The final quote in Daily Breeze’s story sums up Chivas USA’s practices to this point, and with a former human resources employee now making serious allegations, Major League Soccer could be incentivized to act sooner rather than later with regard to the team’s ownership:

“Plaintiff complained to [club president José] David regarding the discriminatory termination and hiring process, and requested that David allow her to coordinate open recruitments,” the complaint states. “David refused, and continued to hire only employees from Mexico or persons who were recommended by Chivas Guadalajara.”

Carlos Bocanegra not sweating his future with U.S. national team

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SEATTLE — A couple hours after the U.S. national team lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy in Chicago, former captain Carlos Bocanegra suited up for his new club, Chivas USA. The Goats lost 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC, wasting an early one-goal lead.

Bocanegra said it felt good to be back playing in Major League Soccer, despite the result.

“We wound up losing, so that part kind of sucks,” he told NBC ProSoccerTalk after the game. “Just on a personal level, it’s nice to be back. … It worked out nicely to be back in Southern California.”

Stuck aboard a sinking ship when Rangers FC went into liquidation, Bocanegra joined Racing Santander on loan in Spain’s second tier rather than staying on Scotland’s bottom rung and risking his national team career.

Of course, U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann has since dropped Bocanegra from the team, first stripping him of the captain’s armband and unceremoniously benching him for the first match in the final round of World Cup qualifying, then deciding not to call him up for any subsequent matches.

Bocanegra maintained that his exclusion from the Gold Cup squad was due to his unsettled club situation, which was what Klinsmann said when he announced the roster. The 34-year-old center back made 23 appearances for Santander in the 42-game 2012-13 season before signing with MLS and Chivas USA this month.

“I always would like to be there with them,” Bocanegra said. “I spoke to Jürgen beforehand, and we kind of decided I wanted to get settled with my club team, wherever I go, first and foremost, and get playing, get minutes there. He’s seen me play enough times.”

But after the way his last year has gone, the Alta Loma, Calif., native has to feel good about his new home, even if the team isn’t getting results. Even though Toronto FC held the top spot in MLS’s allocation ranking, Chivas traded up to sign Bocanegra.

“It was nice that they really made a big play for me,” he said. “It’s nice to be wanted, so that was cool.”

That might be Bocanegra’s biggest victory of the last six months: feeling wanted again. For now, that seems to be enough for him, regardless of whether Klinsmann comes calling for the friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in two weeks or the World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico in September.

“I’m not really concentrating on that too much,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it too much. I’ve got to come in here, play well, do my job, and if he calls me back in, awesome. If not, that’s the way things go, and I’ve got to carry on doing my job here.”

Three Good Questions for Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy

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SEATTLE — Even with all the controversy surrounding Chivas USA this season and the team’s poor results, the locker room after the club’s 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC felt remarkably inviting.

The language I heard the most was English, despite the allegations of discrimination against those who do not have Mexican heritage and do not speak Spanish. Nobody treated me like a pariah, and despite the negative press the club has received recently, players didn’t seem to mind having a microphone in their faces — even after another tough loss.

Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy spoke to NBC ProSoccerTalk about how the team is dealing with the situation and about his personal career trajectory within the framework of Chivas USA.

This was your 100th game in Major League Soccer, all with Chivas USA. How much does this club mean to you?

This is the team that gave me a chance in this league. There’s something to be said about that. They continue to support me, and I’m trying to do my best to help us turn this thing around.

With all the controversy surrounding the club, you’re often seen as the American face of it all, and you’re the team captain. How much do you think about that kind of stuff?

I really don’t. To me, this thing’s about winning games. … We have a good locker room, and we come to work focusing on the task at hand, which is working out on the training pitch every day and trying to get some results. Fortunately enough, that’s our job.

Your name has been tossed around as somebody who possibly could or at least should get a look with the national team. Does that idea ever cross your mind?

Of course. It’s a motivating factor. I’m trying to take that next step in my career. I feel like I’m at a good age, and I have good experience for it. It’s nice to be recognized in those circles, but that’s one of the things I’m trying to push myself to compete for.

When I asked Kennedy if he has been in contact with the national team staff at all, he said he has received “no word” at all. The CONCACAF Gold Cup could have been the perfect chance to give this veteran a look, but Jürgen Klinsmann and his staff opted to stay away.


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Chivas USA responds to HBO’s Real Sports’ report on discriminatory practices

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We got a taste on Monday, but once the segment on HBO’s Real Sports aired last night, there was a newly palpable buzz surrounding discrimination allegations made against Chivas USA. For people who’ve followed the situation since Jorge Vergara assumed control of the club, there wasn’t any new information, but watching a news magazine like Inside Sports pick at the morsels we’ve been rolling around for months, you knew the controversy was going to hit a new level. There’s just something about a reporter like Soledad O’Brien interviewing the likes of James Riley, Dan Calichman and Teddy Chronopoulous (ex-coaches who have filed suit against the club), and a mother whose child was turned away from the club’s youth program that gives the story that extra weight.

Perhaps that’s why Chivas USA has decided to respond, with a release posted to the club’s web site earlier today. Here’s the English version, though as you’ll infer from a reading, the Spanish one better represents the club’s feelings on last night’s report:

One of the biggest strengths we have at Chivas USA is the talented and dedicated employees that make up our community, in which diversity prevails by having different nationalities, cultures and beliefs. Chivas USA is formed by employees from Argentina, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Spain, and the United States. We aim to work in an environment reigned by harmony, regardless of skin color, language, and beliefs, which is also the base to one of our greatest strengths, as it allows multiple ideas to flow and complement each other.

Therefore, we are disappointed by the intent of some individuals who have chosen to use our diversity to define our club as a racist and discriminatory environment by reporting an incomplete and one-sided story in order to damage the image of Chivas USA and the hard working individuals who are part of our community.

At Chivas USA we are all part of the same Red-and-White colors and ideology, which strives for both personal and professional fulfillment on and off the field.

We absolutely reject any form of discrimination and racism.

“Our true nationality is mankind.” H. G. Wells

As strange as this story is, adding a high school yearbook quote to the end of an official (and quite serious) press release makes the whole thing so much more bizarre. When Chivas are in court defending themselves against Calichman and Chronopoulous’s suit, are they going to offer Wells’ platitude as a defense of their actions? And at this point, would we be shocked if they did?

Beyond Chivas USA, who are obviously making this bed for themselves, last night’s report was a black eye for Major League Soccer, who declined to speak to HBO but did offer them a statement. As O’Brien stood in a production studio, reading the league’s words in front of a televised league logo, you felt the helpless, hapless situation MLS has allowed itself to embrace. And with Vergara offering up the likes of Francisco “Paco” Palencia as last night’s sacrificial lamb, who knows how many times club officials (and by extention, the single-entity league) are going to be made to look foolish as they try to defend a concept which runs so contrary to North American sports culture, if not law.

Given the scope of Major League Soccer in the broader landscape, this still has the potential to blow over. Ten minutes on subscription cable isn’t going to define this issue. However, if Chivas USA continues to flounder, make mistakes, and doesn’t somehow correct course, HBO’s work will be linked to over and over again by people who need examples of Vergara’s misdeeds.

The information may not have been new, but now it’s all synthesized in one place, the story told coherently by a respected journalist. ‘Thorn in the side’ could be an understatement.