CARSON, Calif. – The offseason is just barely under way, but Chivas USA have hit the ground running as they look to improve in 2012. And if the Rojiblancos are to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, GM Jose Domene will have a lot to do with it.
Domene joined Chivas’ front office in December 2010 as interim GM, but became full time in late March. He recently sat down with MLSsoccer.com to discuss player moves, the team's stadium search and his goals for next season.
MLSsoccer.com: First and foremost, what is the status of Juan Pablo Ángel for the 2012 season?
Domene: It's a decision that is both the club's and Juan Pablo's. We've talked about it, but we need to sit down when we stop training and we're going to see where he's at and where he fits here. He's a great player, we all know that. He did great things for the club and we would love to have him back, but it's going to be a mutual decision.
It's not us forcing him to come back or him forcing us to not bring him back. It's not like that. We just have to sit down and do what's best for Juan Pablo and what's best for Chivas. It's not about money whether he stays or goes.
MLSsoccer.com: You've been vocal on Twitter saying that the club is actively searching for players, how is that search going?
Domene: We are not only in the international market, but in the national market. We're scouting and we want to bring in people because this is our first full offseason and we want to get a head start.
Right now, we've got the winter transfer window — the big window is in the summer — but you can take advantage right now of looking for players that may help you in their environment. We've visited seven countries so far and seen two-dozen games already, and we'll continue to do that until the leagues stop for the winter. And then when they resume, we'll do it again. Hopefully, we'll bring in as much talent as possible and develop as much talent as possible because we have a good core to build a balanced and winning team next season.
MLSsoccer.com: The club still has until the end of the calendar year to use their No. 1 slot in the allocation order. Are Chivas planning a move?
Domene: Everybody said a lot about the allocation order, but we're here for the long run and we're not going to pick someone that doesn't make sense just because we're number one. It's not about just picking a guy because we have to pick one, it's about picking the right guy.
If someone is not the right guy for us, then we won't use it. It's as simple as that. It's not just about bringing in the guy that's coming back. So if it makes sense then we'll use the selection either this year or next year. It just has to make sense. We're not going to bring in players for the sake of bringing players. We want winners.
MLSsoccer.com: What is the mood of the team ownership on how the season went this year?
Domene: The mood is that in order to finish a project, you've got to let the project keep its route. We were definitely disappointed because we didn't play as bad as our standings and points reflected, but I think that we lost a lot of games because of small mistakes and we left a lot of points on the table. We do understand that what we did was not enough because this is not what we want. We want to make the playoffs and we're working hard towards making the playoffs.
We've got to work hard during the off-season to work on individual mistakes, but at the same time, we need extra help in terms of bringing in new talent so that we can go to the next level. The next level is not the playoffs, it's to fight for a championship.
MLSsoccer.com: A pair of local cities, Pomona and Santa Ana, have publicly admitted discussions with the team about a new stadium. How are those talks progressing?
Domene: We're still looking. We haven't signed anything with any city. We're happy at the Home Depot Center, where they treat us very well, but at the end of the day, it makes sense for us to have our own stadium. We're going to move to some place that makes sense for the club and Chivas USA. We're still searching and looking. We have had conversations with those cities, but not just those two.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.