CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara believes his MLS club began its tenure in MLS on the wrong foot and is now looking to correct it by making Chivas USA into an “all-southern California" squad.
The emphasis on bringing along players in the Goats’ youth system has been a major focus for head coach Robin Fraser and GM José Domene, but it wasn't until Chivas USA vice president of marketing and sponsorship Rodrigo Morales made the claim of creating an “All-SoCal” squad in an interview with the Sporting News that the plans drew considerable attention.
Speaking to reporters at the halftime of Chivas USA's 1-0 SuperClásico loss to the LA Galaxy this past Saturday, Vergara said he believes that a focus on youth development similar to that of CD Guadalajara will bring the Rojiblancos success in MLS.
“It’s a plan that we have mostly local and regional people that we have been working with, and it continues with the plan of Chivas in Mexico,” said Vergara. “We want to have young, talented players and to be able to give them an opportunity.”
The development of youth players is a far cry from the Chivas USA roster at the time of the team’s inception in 2005, which boasted many former members of Guadalajara as well as veterans from the Mexican league. For a team that had entered the league with high expectations, the first year was a disaster as the club went just 4-22-6, leading to a great deal of roster turnover for the following season.
“We made the mistake of focusing on results, which makes you make think differently,” said Vergara. “It’s similar to what happened in Mexico two years ago — we decided to bring in reinforcements from other teams and it was a big failure. We’ve learned from that lesson and we’re going to continue growing our young players.”
The Rojiblancos have several members of their squad with experience at various youth levels for Chivas USA, including midfielders Jorge Flores and Gerson Mayén as well as forward Chris Cortez, a recent signee. In addition, the team’s roster also boasts homegrown talent Bryan de la Fuente, who signed with the club at the end of last season.
With a greater focus on developing these types of players, Vergara believes that now is the time to unveil broader plans for Chivas USA.
“It’s more difficult here to get youth working on a good basis, but now the team is getting results with youngsters on the field so it is the time to do it,” said Vergara.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano