By Paul Kennedy
The Chivas USA mess is a story that can't seem to escape MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Even at a press opportunity on Wednesday at P.S. 72 in East Harlem -- where Manchester City, majority owner of new MLS club New York City FC, runs a soccer program -- Garber was asked about the future of the MLS club.
Last in attendance with an average of 8,059 fans a game and without a local television contract, Chivas USA is now struggling on the field, having slipped back down to the bottom of the Western Conference, going 0-5-1 in its last six games after starting out with a 3-1-1 record.
Opposing coaches will love beating up on Chivas USA this season -- Chivas USA coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola basically came out and said his players were in over their heads -- but owners and executives around the league are worried about the club becoming an embarrassment for the league.
The Mexican sports tabloid Record reported that Vergara wanted to sell his Chivas empire to Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, and hoped to fetch $200 million (!) for Chivas USA.
(Efforts by Slim to buy all or part of the Chivas empire -- he reportedly has no interest in operating Chivas USA as it currently exists -- hit a snag as Mexico league owners passed a new rule to bar multiple ownership of Liga MX teams -- Slim already holds interests in Pachuca and Leon.)
Record later reported that MLS was going to force Vergara to hand the club back to the league -- a story that Garber pushed back hard on.
“Anything you’ve heard is absolute nonsense,” Garber told reporters on Wednesday. “However, that report came out of Mexico, it’s irresponsible, it’s unprofessional and, frankly, that kind of reporting shouldn’t exist in your industry. We have no plans to take over that team. That being said, we want them to get better and we believe the situation there is not positive, not positive for them and their fans.
“I’ve spoken to [Vergara and his wife and co-owner Angelica Fuentes], met with them and they took over this team from their partner, the Cue family, three-four months ago and they had it for eight year. They need some time and that’s basically what they’re saying. They’ve got a plan and they need some time to execute that plan. They have expressed no interest in selling the team at all.”
All fine and good, but Vergara hasn't exactly exuded confidence.
He was in Los Angeles last weekend, appearing at Chivas USA's academy games on Saturday but not at the Sunday MLS game against Real Salt Lake (4-1 loss).
And Vergara hasn't revealed his so-called plan to jumpstart Chivas USA.
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