Registration began Sunday for the 2008 version of what is in essence an open tryout to earn a spot on an MLS team, and this year, it will be conducted by two MLS teams rather than just one.
Launched by Chivas USA last year, Sueño MLS attracted 2,000 applicants and another 4,000 hopefuls were placed on a waiting list. Jorge Flores, a 17-year-old from Anaheim, Calif., survived the series of tryouts and cutdowns to earn some MLS playing time and also a callup to the U.S. under-20 national team. This year, FC Dallas and Chivas USA will each conduct tryouts for 2,000 applicants to be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. After four days of tryouts in each city next month, two sets of 60 participants will be invited back for a single day of competition, from which two squads of 18 finalists will be chosen.
Those finalists will compete for a chance to train with the MLS teams and perhaps be offered an MLS contract. The Univision weekly magazine show, "República Deportiva" will track the progress of the tryouts, with winners to be announced live on the program March 30 prior to the FC Dallas-Chivas USA season opener.
Only amateur players 16 and older are eligible to participate. Unlike the tryouts conducted by many MLS teams, participation in Sueño MLS is free, although candidates are responsible for their own transportation and other expenses.
Last year, players flocked to the Southern California tryouts from cities and towns across the United States as well as from several foreign countries. On-line registration filled the available spots within hours.
Chivas USA, which has an extensive player development program including an U-19 team and academy, blended elements of entertainment and sport to launch Sueño MLS, which gave it -- and the league -- unprecedented exposure on "República Deportiva," one of Univision's highly rated programs.
Yet Chivas USA in 2007 did not lure the attendances to Home Depot Center that its success on the field and long-standing tradition would suggest.
Perhaps the second season of Sueño MLS will further inculcate Chivas USA and FC Dallas into the constituency of Hispanic fans they wish to serve, and pay off at the gate as well as the TV screen.