Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Is Jose Domene the visionary Chivas USA needs?
by Ridge Mahoney, March 31st, 2011 1:18AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

TAGS:  chivas usa, mls


[MLS] Chivas USA has removed "interim" from Jose Domene's title and he is now the team’s general manager, free and clear. He is No. 3 on the management depth chart behind operator-investors Jorge Vergara and Antonio Cue, and oversaw the selection of Robin Fraser as head coach once the decision was made last November to cut ties with Martin Vasquez, the fifth man to lose the job in five seasons.

Fraser is highly regarded for his playing career and work as an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake, and probably not destined to be cut loose after one season as was his predecessor.

When he came aboard MLS, Vergara smugly proclaimed his team would show the gringos how to play. He hired a few of them to coach his team, and a few more to run the show, and six seasons into the venture, Chivas USA is among the league leaders in head coaches and general managers and CEOs who have come and gone during that time.

Thomas Rongen, Hans Westerhof, Bob Bradley, Preki and Martin Vazquez have paved the way for Fraser; Whit Haskel, Javier Leon and Shawn Hunter preceded Domene. Leon, born in Mexico City, and Vasquez, a native of Yahualica, who played professionally on both sides of the border, couldn’t solve the problems of how to make an American offshoot of a beloved Mexican team popular playing in the shadow of -- and in the building owned by -- the glamorous Galaxy.

It started out as Chivas del Norte before re-branding as a blue-collar alternative to Beckham and the boys. It set records (since broken) for local sponsorship sales (believed to be between $4 million and $ 5 million) in its first season, yet despite ranking mid-tier in attendances is one of the teams languishing moderately deep in losses, partially due to the high lease payments and share of marketing and sponsorships paid out to AEG as a condition of their operating agreement.

Last year, under Hunter and Vasquez, Chivas USA finished last in the Western Conference yet maintained an average attendance of 15,574 and a slight drop of 3.4 percent from the previous season. Domene at first got involved as a consultant and moved into the interim GM role after Hunter last November announced his resignation. The hiring of Fraser is widely regarded as an excellent move in regards to improving the team itself; to Domene falls the tougher task of selling tickets and generating revenues.

His father was once president of UANL Tigres, so there is some management expertise in the pedigree. Leon grew up a devoted fan of Club America, yet couldn’t make it work, and eventually left his post to take a position with the Chicago Fire.

“I’ve had discussions with the owner and the general manager, and I’m extremely comfortable with how things are going to be done here,” said Fraser after being named head coach in early January.

“Honestly, when I came out of the interview with them I was really impressed with Antonio Cue and Jose Domene, and their vision of where they wanted to go. I walked out of it thinking, and told anyone who would listen, that it was a really, really good interview and these guys really know what they want.”

In a Q & A with this week, Domene gave no specifics as how he can improve the team’s popularity and marketing allure. Winning can help, yet during Preki’s tenure (2007-09), it qualified for the playoffs all three seasons yet fans complained about the team’s dour, defensive style. When his attempts to obtain players he wanted were blocked, a schism between him and club management opened wider and never was bridged.

A few days ago, Vergara emerged from long months of silence and said players could be heading to Chivas USA from the parent club this summer. Such “influence” from Mexico is one of the aspects of team operations that frustrated Preki; for his part, Fraser has no problems with it.

“I definitely don’t get that feeling at all,” said Fraser to inquiries about what might be perceived as meddling. “I think Guadalajara could be a great resource to us and we’re certainly looking at it that way.”

In the first two league games, hit by injuries and international callups, Chivas USA lost both at home while drawing crowds of 18,122 (for the opener) and 13,027. Tuesday it headed to Portland to face the Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup, and lost again, 2-0, after going down to 10 men when defender Andrew Boyens received a second caution late in the first half.

In the Q & A, Domene said of Fraser, “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.”

There are still questions about what Vergara and Cue really want their team to be, beyond kicking butt on and off the field. To Domene has fallen the task of shaping a proud Mexican tradition into an American success story.

1 comment
  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 31, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
    The real problem with this team, which Preki, then Vasquez and now Fraser faces is that the owners have never decided to step up and support the team by opening their wallets to spend on acquiring a higher level quality player(s)player while all the time they have to play in the shadow of the Galaxy who routinely have thrown money at the team on DPs (currently at three with Donovan, Beckham and Angel). Now that Guzan, Borstein and Kledjstan are gone what do they have in the pipeline? The cheapskate behavior of Cue and Vergara is frustrating when one considers that they are amongst the richest men in Mexico and have inherited the proud tradition of Chivas Guadalajara. Domene and Fraser seem like good choices but without proper support I fear they will leave just like Preki did. Preki was a better coach than the Galaxy's Arena, he just wasn't given the necessary tools to take the team up to the required higher level. This lack of support and the MLS' meddling in the USMNT led me to give up my season seats this year after 3 consistent years of support by our family, I simply had no confidence in the team's direction under the present owners. Its really a shame because of those who dislike the corporate AEG atmospere that permeates the Galaxy really enjoyed the alternative provided by Chivas Los Angeles.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS: Timbers' Cascadia draw latest in worrying pattern    
The Portland Timbers were coming off two tough losses on the road in the last week ...
By the Numbers: Galaxy's record home vs. away form    
Since 2000, only 10 MLS teams have finished the season with a worse record at home ...
Video Pick: Big oops by Galaxy goalie    
Roger Espinoza's 32-yard shot was heading straight into L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper Clement Diop's chest. But Diop ...
MLS: Quakes replace Kinnear with Leitch as head coach    
Less than 24 hours after beating Real Salt Lake, 2-1, to move into fifth place in ...
USMNT: Arena names roster for Gold Cup    
Bruce Arena named his 23-player roster for the Gold Cup. It includes four uncapped players: Kelyn ...
What They're Saying: Haris Medunjanin    
"I think you need to be honest, and I didn't feel a kick. It was just ...
MLS Weekend: Fire extends win streak to seven games    
The Chicago Fire extending its home winning streak to seven games - the second-longest streak in ...
TV: Cincy-Chicago Open Cup match to be shown on ESPN2     
In just its second season in the USL, FC Cincinnati is racking up milestones in terms ...
MLS Today: Hunt for points intensifies    
Big rivalry matches will be played each day over the weekend -- Houston-FC Dallas, NYCFC-Red Bulls ...
MLS Closeup: By dominating at home Dynamo defies critics    
So far in this MLS season, several teams are posting remarkable records that are mirror images: ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives