CARSON, Calif. — While head coach Robin Fraser has gotten a considerable amount of the attention for the redevelopment he’s helming at Chivas USA, another man has sought out to put his own stamp on the franchise.
General manager José Domene, a member of the soccer committee that helps run the Rojiblancos while providing a vital link to owners Jorge Vergara and Antonio Cue, is a former juice company magnate and consultant to Chivas USA that has his own goals in mind for the franchise.
Domene comes from a long-standing soccer family, with his father serving as the president of Mexican first division side Tigres UANL during the early 1990s, and it was through his father's example that he learned the game.
MLSsoccer.com had the chance to sit down and chat with Domene to discuss his role and vision for Chivas USA.
MLSsoccer.com: You’ve recently had your “interim GM” title removed. How does that change your approach to the job?
Domene: I’m just going to work as I’ve always worked. We’re going to follow our long-term plan, which will be there with or without me; but the good thing is that now I’m involved. As I’ve said before, titles are titles. I’m here to do whatever the ownership wants me to do because I’m here to win a championship.
MLSsoccer.com: What are your thoughts about the way the team has performed recently, currently sitting at 0-2 in MLS play? Is there any worry that it may not progress as quickly as needed?
Domene: I wasn’t here last year, but I saw games because I was consulting for the team and I see a change in attitude for sure. I think that we’ll get where we want to be eventually. It may take a bit longer than we think or it may not. Robin has done a tremendous job and both the ownership and myself are going to support this project all the way. We know that this is a long-term process and we’re going to give Robin and the coaching staff time.
[inline_node:325947]MLSsoccer.com: What is your relationship with Fraser?
Domene: Robin and I have a great relationship. We talk daily, typically about six times a day. He has done a really good job of changing the mentality of the team and to make them better, not just in training but day-by-day and game-by-game. I think the guys are buying into his philosophy, they understand that this is a process. Robin really knows what he wants and our players understand that.
MLSsoccer.com: Talk about the “Soccer Committee” and how this works in terms of players and their development.
Domene: It’s like a little board of the owners, Robin, myself, and other people involved in soccer. We make hard decisions involving player personnel and youth development. These decisions are talked about so that everyone is involved. All the decisions are made through committee; instead of having one person like a dictator, we have to reach a consensus. We talk about different things so we can make decisions together.
MLSsoccer.com: Chivas USA have made a number of Home Grown and Academy signings. How important is youth development to the club?
Domene: If we have a city like LA, where we have a pool of huge talent that no one has tapped into, then why not [tap into it]? I believe that we have more talent here than anywhere in the world, it’s just a matter of finding that talent and giving that talent a chance. I think that’s what Chivas USA will eventually thrive at.
Our sister franchise [Mexican powerhouse Chivas de Guadalajara] has done this very well and that’s something that we need to do so that we can tap into youth development and find the best talent around us.
MLSsoccer.com: It is often difficult for teams to keep youth players from eventually leaving and joining franchises abroad. Is there a worry that you may find players only for them to be poached by other teams?
Domene: If we have players that play for us for a few years and then jump, then that means that we were successful. It means that we created good talent.
If we’re a little smart and we get 1 percent of the players around the LA area, then we’ll find at least seven or eight good players a year, so we won’t have a problem refilling that talent. We’ll just have to plug and play in a way.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano