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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Goats all-So Cal? Lost in translation

By Scott French

A couple of published reports have Chivas USA ready to take on the cloak of its brother (or father) club, Guadalajara. Jalisco's Chivas plays only with Mexican players, and our Goats, the story went, will soon be playing only with talent from Southern California.

Truly a home-spun squad.

Only it's not so.

“To only go with Southern California guys, it's not realistic. It's not smart,” general manager Jose Domene said Tuesday. “If we only used players from our youth, from our academy, you're shooting yourself in the foot.”

The message, he says, got lost in translation. That sounds reasonable.

The talk stemmed from two interviews, by new marketing director Rodrigo Morales with The Sporting News and co-owner Jorge Vergara with reporters at halftime of the Goats' 1-0 SuperClasico loss to the Galaxy on Saturday night at Home Depot Center.

Morales and Vergara are Mexican, and although both are bilingual -- Vergara more so than Morales -- English is neither's first language. Vergara is based in Guadalajara, where his holdings include Chivas de Guadalajara, and Morales moved to L.A. in December from a position with Guadalajara.

Morales last week told The Sporting News that the club “will play only with South California players,” that “sooner or later, 11 of our players [on the field] will be from Southern California.” That, he said, would distinguish the Goats from their cross-stadium rival and enable the club to “achieve the sense of belonging to the people of Southern California” where fans will “be supporting their neighbor.”

It picked up traction when Vergara, asked about the comments, confirmed the policy. Sort of.

“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,” he said. “We want to have young, talented players and to be able to give them an opportunity. … We’re going to continue growing our young players.”

What they meant to say, Domene said, was that Chivas wanted to invest in its youth scheme and develop talent that will grow into first-team regulars with the club. Like at Guadalajara.

“What Vergara says is true,” said Domene, who also is Mexican but was educated at Purdue and Stanford and is fully fluent in Spanish and English. “Our plan, we want to build from the inside, through our youth academy. We think that's the future of the team.

“But when [Morales] said we'd be an all-youth academy[-produced] team … that's not a policy, and it's a very delicate matter because of Chivas de Guadalajara's policy [to use only Mexican players], so people took it seriously. But we're not going to discriminate against any player. ... It's not a policy, but if it were to happen, it would be a great success.”

The Goats' roster has eight players from Southern California, including forward Chukwudi Chijindu, who is playing on loan with the third-tier L.A. Blues, but the only players on the list developed by the club are midfielders Gerson Mayen (Los Angeles/Manual Arts HS) and Bryan de la Fuente (Bell/Bell HS).

Mayen, 22, is a rising talent within the club but has seen little first-team time. De la Fuente, 18, has played primarily for Chivas' reserve team and it's academy teams.