Club Deportivo Chivas USA announced that Dutchman Thomas Rongen will join renowned ex-Chivas Guadalajara player Javier 'Zully' Ledesma as the first coaches in the history of the club. The two were introduced at a Thursday press conference at The Home Depot Center, where the newest Major League Soccer expansion club also unveiled the team's identity, colors and official name, which reflect the bond with Club Deportivo Guadalajara in Mexico. Investor-operators Jorge Vergara and Antonio Cue were joined by CEO Javier Leon, General Manager Whit Haskel, CD Guadalajara Executive President Ivar Sisniega and CD Guadalajara Sports Director, Hans Westerhoff, for the announcement. Hans Westerhoff will be present Dennis te Kloese as a member of CD Chivas USA's coaching staff.
"Today we present two fundamental elements in the birth of this soccer club, both on and off the field," said Vergara. "We bring on experienced coaches with the same ideologies as our sports administrators, as well as introducing our respected, historic and traditional colors for our new club in the United States."
The 47-year-old Rongen was named CD Chivas USA head coach and brings with him a wealth of experience from more than 15 years of coaching at the professional, amateur and collegiate levels in the United States in addition to a 15-year playing career which started with world renowned Ajax Amsterdam of Holland. An MLS Cup champion with D.C. United in 1999, Rongen will leave his post as head coach of the U.S. Under-20 National Team, which he led to a fifth-place finish at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championships.
Prior to his work in the U.S. National Team system, Rongen spent six seasons in MLS and his 82 career victories as an MLS coach rank second all-time behind current MetroStars Head Coach Bob Bradley. The 1996 MLS Coach of the Year also led the Tampa Bay Mutiny and D.C. United to the League's best records in the 1996 and 1999 seasons respectively. A former collegiate coach at Nova Southeastern University (1991-1995), Rongen developed as a player in the Ajax system, a club for which he made his professional debut. The former Dutch Olympic Team player then moved to the United States in 1979 to play for the Los Angeles Aztecs, kicking off a six-year career in the NASL where he played alongside stars like world star Johan Cruyff and former Mexican National Team Head Coach Javier Aguirre.
"Thomas Rongen's coaching background in the United States and MLS together with the philosophy he shares with CD Guadalajara Technical Director Hans Westerhoff made him a critical foundation for our coaching staff," said Cue. "Rongen's expertise alongside 'Zully' Ledesma's keen understanding of the Chivas spirit and playing style is the ideal combination as we begin to assemble the best players on this continent to make us a championship club."
Ledesma, one of the most respected and popular figures in the history of CD Guadalajara, was named assistant coach. Chivas' former goalkeeper is a product of the minor league system of CD Guadalajara, where he developed his skills since his youth. In his last position in a coaching staff, Ledesma was one of the coaches for Chivas La Piedad, club that participates in Primera "A" of the Mexican League. As a player, Ledesma was one of the stars during the glory years of the 1980s were he debuted under Uruguayan coach Carlos Miloc and played for Chivas from 1979 to 1985 before defending the Morelia goal prior to the 1986 World Cup. That same year, Ledesma returned to Chivas and win the championship under Alberto Guerra during the 1986-87 seasons. In 1993, Ledesma joined U. de G. (1993-94 and 94-95 season), where he retired.
CLUB DEPORTIVO CHIVAS USA NAME AND IDENTITY
The official name of Major League Soccer expansion club is "Club Deportivo Chivas USA" with "CD Chivas USA" used on second reference in all official communications.
'Chivas' is the nickname for the Guadalajara-based club which plays in the Mexican soccer league named "Club Deportivo Guadalajara" or "CD Guadalajara". It was at the dawn of CD Guadalajara's entry into the professional ranks of Mexican soccer that its players were given their nickname, "Chivas," a name which means goat in Spanish and still has survived to this day. Following a 1-0 victory over Tampico in 1948, a reporter, incredulous that the club from Guadalajara had won the match, wrote that the team "plays like hopping goats." The nickname "Chivas" was initially used as an insult by rival fans but eventually the name grew into a symbol for the club and readily accepted and embraced by its fans.
In seeking to preserve the connection to the tradition and history of its Guadalajara roots, the CD Chivas USA logo maintains several features of the CD Guadalajara logo intact, with the most significant difference between the two coming in the name of the club. The logo design, which dates back to 1908, contains the shield of the city of Guadalajara and the traditional uniform colors of the club in Mexico, which were originally selected based on the red and white striped jerseys of the Brussels-based Belgian club for which the founder of the team once played. The CD Chivas USA logo does not incorporate the ten stars of its Guadalajara counterpart, which represent the number of Mexican league championship victories.
"The name, colors and shield of CD Guadalajara have come to represent pride, honor and passion for millions of the club's fans in Mexico and around the world," said Haskel. "Club Deportivo Chivas USA will follow that lead and serve as a source of pride for our fans in the United States as we begin to grow the Chivas tradition and create a spirit of our own in this country. It is only a matter of time before we also begin adding championships and stars to our logo."
Preparations continue for the inaugural season of Club Deportivo Chivas USA in 2005. More information on the club can be found on the team's official website at www.CDChivasUSA.com or by calling 1-877-CHIVAS-1.