[MLS SPOTLIGHT]Longtime MLS executive Nelson Rodriguez says he raised his hand and volunteered to take charge of Chivas USA when it was announced on Feb. 20 that MLS had taken control of the club. "I guess it's the crazy Argentine in me," says the new Chivas USA president who sees a great opportunity for himself and for the club.
Rodriguez acknowledged that it will be a huge challenge to balance the lame-duck club's obligations -- to its players and fans to make its 10th season the most successful possible and to prepare for a possible move and work with interested ownsership groups on identifying and instilling their core values -- but he said if it has to err, it will err on the side of the present.
"Look, we haven't make the playoffs in the last four years," he said, "and everything starts with on the field. At the end of the day, Chivas USA is a soccer club, and so we need for our product to be worthy of our fans' attention."
Rodriguez says the daily focus of Chivas USA will be simple: do what is necessary to give the team the best chance to secure three points in its next game and attract more fans and provide them a better viewing experience. "The guys in the locker room deserve to treated like the professionals that they are." he said. "And we will be doing things in a first-class manner as we move forward."
But he admitted Chivas USA cannot encumber any potential ownership group with any long-term commitments it might not wish to honor. "That's the balancing act," he said, "and that will fall to me more than anyone else. But I am confident we can find the right balance."
Rodriguez, who said no player personnel moves would be made quickly, stressed consistency and stability, something that has been lacking from club management in recent years. "We are not going to try crazy things and find a silver bullet or magic elixir," he said. "It doesn't exist." He insisted that if the club does things right, little by little fans will jump on the bandwagon.
"There are a lot of fans seeking a soccer alternative in the greater LA area," he said, "and we want to be that club."
On other topics ...
New coaching staff gets strong endorsement.Rodriguez said he'd have probably hired Wilmer Cabrera and his coaching staff if the decision on a Chivas USA coach had been his. Cabrera, the former U.S. U-17 national team coach, and assistant Paul Caffrey came over in January from Colorado, where they were assistants for the Rapids, who made the playoffs in 2013. "That demonstrates," Rodriguez said, "they are up to the challenge of dealing in a professional environment." He said there was already a new mindset at the club, praising Cabrera's practical approach and the club's success in preseason when it went undefeated with a 3-0-5 record.
Chivas USA has an option to keep Cubo on loan. Rodriguez said Erick Torres, whose loan from Guadalajara ends in June, is a key player if Chivas USA is to have success, and any decision to extend the loan will be made by Cabrera. "We will look to extend the loan," said Rodriguez.
Local television talks are ongoing. Chivas USA announced on Monday a Spanish-language radio deal with ESPN Deportes Radio to carry all Chivas USA matches locally, and Rodriguez said there is a lot of interest in a local television deal from several groups.
MLS intends to keep the club in the Los Angeles area. Rodriguez said the plan is to keep the club in the Los Angeles area. "We are not currently considering offers to relocate the team," he said.