BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – For many world-renowned clubs, Chivas USA’s introduction into MLS in 2005 was an example of how they could expand and tap into a fertile field with plenty of growth potential.
Two years ago, European powerhouse FC Barcelona toyed with establishing an expansion club in Miami. Now, it's Argentine giants Boca Juniors who have the idea of planting a seed in the States.
Boca Juniors manager of marketing and business management Pablo Fuentes told MLSsoccer.com that he recently spoke with MLS about a possible deal between the two sides.
“We spoke for about an hour about the chances of Boca playing over there and forming a franchise with the ‘Boca Juniors’ name, like Chivas [de Guadalajara],” said Fuentes. “As Boca’s manager of marketing, I think it would be spectacular and it’s not something that’s far-fetched.”
An MLS spokesperson confirmed that the league maintains a good working relationship with Boca but that the immediate focus for expansion remains a second club in New York as the league's 20th team after Montreal joins MLS in 2012.
[inlinenode:325162]After Xeneize idol Guillermo Barros Schelotto joined the Columbus Crew in 2007, visions of a “Boca USA” club in either New York or Miami circulated around Argentina. The topic was front-page news and even Schelotto was in favor of the plan, but the conversation slowly diluted.
“At one point, [expanding to MLS] had been a possibility when [Schelotto] had arrived at the league,” Fuentes said. “[Expanding to MLS] is not a crazy idea, nor is it something … that’s not in the analyses we make when questions like these emerge. It’s something real that we’re very interested in.”
The Boca Juniors executive offered that there are various ways the club can establish itself in MLS, whether it be by buying a franchise or reaching an agreement with an already existing club.
That wouldn’t be the only way for the Argentine club to make its presence known in the US.
“There are many intermediate steps, like the development of friendlies against MLS teams and partnerships so that some of our youngsters play in [MLS] to gain experience,” noted Fuentes.
[inlinenode:306706]“Boca is a renowned team with many players and MLS is still growing and the technical and tactical levels are improving. I think Latin Americans can offer a lot to the league and can, conversely, learn a different style of play. It can be good for both sides.”
In the meantime, Fuentes said the club is looking at the possibility of repeating a US tour. In 2010, they dropped in on the LA Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers.
“We lost all three games … but in all three we saw a huge growth of MLS’ soccer,” he said. “As a tour and experience … it was great, that’s why we’re sure to repeat.”