The future of Chivas USA is out there somewhere, playing in a park with friends in an L.A. park or kicking the ball around with dad in the backyard.
It's officially Chivas USA's mission to find that player, develop him and help him along the long path toward professional soccer and someday have him contribute to Chivas USA.
Wednesday, the Major League Soccer club opened the Chivas USA Soccer Academy. The school is based on the successful system in place in Guadalajara which has produced numerous players for both Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA.
Already the academy has 80 boys and girls ages 5-13 enrolled.
"We want to open our academy to the entire world and develop players who will at some point in the future make an impact on our reserve teams and eventually our first team," said Dennis te Kloese, Chivas USA director of soccer. "It's a long road to become a professional but at the very least there's a place to start on that long journey here in Los Angeles."
While in the academy, the youngsters will have twice-weekly training sessions and play matches on Saturdays in local leagues.
"One of Chivas USA's goals as an institution is to cultivate among young players the emotion and passion of the world's most beautiful game," Chivas USA President and Co-Owner Antonio Cue said. "We hope to find the next Hector Cuadros, Brad Guzan or Carlos Salcido."
The academy is modeled after the one in Guadalajara, te Kloese said. That school has long had success in helping develop talent. For instance, current Guadalajara players Salcido, Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez, Alberto Medina, Omar Bravo, Johnny Garcia, Alfredo Talavera, Alejandro Vela, Juan Pablo Alfaro and Jonny Magallon all came up through Guadalajara's system. Chivas USA players Cuadros, Isaac Romo, Armando Begines and Francisco Mendoza also were a part of the system.
The men in charge of running the squads are: Miguel Ramos Nuñez, a longtime scout for Guadalajara who spent time with Club Guadalajara's Juveniles and Primera A sides; Sammy Rivas, who spent six years with Chivas and has coached youth teams in the United States; Jose Refugio Mancillas, who spent three years with Chivas and has lived in the United States since 1970; Paolo Duran, an U.S.-born coach who has spent time coaching high school as well as local clubs; and Sacha van der Most, who played professionally in the Netherlands, Belize and the United States and has coached youth teams and run summer camps in the USA.
For Chivas de Guadalajara, having the ability to produce such talent is a necessary to the success of the institution, te Kloese said.
"On the one hand, you're pleased with such success but on the other hand it's a necessity to produce player since they can't use foreigners and to constantly acquire top Mexican talent can become costly," he said. "For a team like Chivas de Guadalajara who only uses Mexicans, we need to cultivate our own players."
Eventually, the products of the Chivas USA Soccer Academy will help strengthen the reserve team and provide the first team with some quality talent. Players are out there, te Kloese said.
"If you start off with soccer skills and some dreams, you can become a professional. Give youngsters the chance, educate them and support them," he said. "In Mexico and here in the United States, there are many capable players who are just waiting for an opportunity and sometimes they also need someone to believe in them."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.