In their first year, Club Deportivo Chivas USA has struggled on and off the field.
Owners of the league's worst record throughout this entire Major League Soccer campaign, Chivas USA has gone through several months of agonizing losses and growing pains. Attendance figures have also not gone Chivas USA's way as the club was eighth in average attendance through the All-Star break.
But Chivas USA accomplished in their first year what most other teams have never done. The MLS club played before 88,816 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night, the second-largest attendance figure in MLS history.
"This could be one of the league's most important nights in terms of attendance," Chivas USA President and Co-Owner Antonio Cué said. "This is good for soccer in the United States."
As was the case for the league's highest-attended match -- a Galaxy-Tampa Bay game in 1996 that drew 92,216 -- many in attendance Wednesday were there to see another game. In 1996, it was the United States-Mexico; Wednesday, it was CD Guadalajara-Club America.
Still, Cué said the stands were about half-full when the Chivas USA-Galaxy game started.
"The first game clearly showed that there are many MLS fans," he said.
Doubleheaders with an international match before or after an MLS game are not groundbreaking. CD Guadalajara played in Chicago last month against Spanish League giant Real Madrid, following a Columbus Crew-Chicago Fire match. But bringing over CD Guadalajara and Club America to face one another is that sort of novelty that Cue said only Chivas USA can bring.
"When we came here, we talked about doing things like this with our brother team in Mexico," Cué said of CD Guadalajara. "We're all in the same family and this Doble Clásico is something that we can duplicate every year."
With the large amounts of red-and-white clad supporters in the stands, Cué said the crowd did well to re-create the atmosphere surrounding a typical Chivas game in Guadalajara. Legion 1908, Chivas' biggest supporters group, took up an entire section of the Coliseum and was just as loud and boisterous as they are during a regular Chivas USA match. The flares with red, white and blue smoke Legion set off during the Chivas-America match was something straight out of Serie A, and something not commonly seen in a typical MLS match.
"The atmosphere we had (Wednesday) night was one we have down in Mexico. We're happy to see it here. This is the type of atmosphere we'd like to see every single game we play. The Doble Clásico night was a success," Cué said. "Chivas fans are bountiful. Wherever anyone turns in Southern California, there seems to be a loyal Chivas supporter. And someday soon, Chivas USA could reap the benefits.
"Every day, we become more convinced of that. A night like (Wednesday) night just reaffirms that there are a lot of Chivas fans and that this project will succeed. This team is here to stay."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. this story was not subject to the approval of Major Leageu Soccer or its clubs.