Banging Our Heads Against A Wall

Jeff Zelevansky

In a way, Chivas USA and the Red Bulls are dysfunctional kindred spirits.

If there's one thing even the most jaded Red Bulls fans can be happy about it's that at least the Red Bulls aren't Chivas USA.

Yes, the Red Bulls might be cupless and might be owned by and named after a foreign energy drink company. But at least the Red Bulls aren't playing second fiddle to a team that also happens to be its landlord, who's a little brother to one of Mexico's most famous clubs and who prefers ethnic pandering to build a fan base rather than something that resembles sound business practice and on-the-field success.

Today, Chivas USA leadership held a press conference in which Jorge Vergara addressed the press for the first time since acquiring full ownership in August. He dug in his heels on the team's re-Mexicanization.

Let's let our SBNation colleagues over at The Goat Parade take over for a minute...

With a name like Chivas USA, the club will always be in the shadow of the mother ship. It's a matter of creating it's own entity away from the mother ship that should be the plan. The attempts to have an all-Mexican team in 2005 failed miserably (as Vergara acknowledged). Continuing the trend of bringing in players from Chivas Guadalajara isn't the answer to fixing this failing organization. It will only add to its downturn. There's no way he would risk bringing top players from his Mexican team to feature on this squad. Vergara said they would also have youth prospect come over from Guadalajara, which, if they're only here to get some play in before heading back, is extremely disappointing. We all remember how 2005 turned out (last place). However, a coaching staff and an organization willing to bring in productive players CAN turn this around.

More of a farm team direction for Chivas, so it seems. In that regard, how much are they like the Red Bulls?

The appointment of Jerome de Bontin at the top of the Red Bull New York pyramid signifies...something. De Bontin has business experience as director of Sustainability Investments LLC and Mekar Financial Services. He's got soccer experience as president of AS Monaco. If you're picking a guy to run both sides of the operation, you'd be hard pressed to find a guy better than de Bontin.

Even better, de Bontin's got experience stateside. He went to Amherst College. He's on the U.S. Soccer Board of Trustees. He's chairman of the Rush Soccer Organization. Apparently, he's even an U.S. Soccer certified coach and official.

Andy Roxburgh, the team's new Sporting Director, has a ton of experience as UEFA Technical Director and in the Scotland national team set-up, but not a lot in American soccer. But he did get the thumbs up from Steve Nicol, former New England Revolution coach, who said he's the right man for the job, so there's that.

What de Bontin/Roxburgh brings to the table is bit more than the Erik Soler/Chris Heck tandem. Under Soler's watch, Norwegian club IK Start ran into financial trouble and had to be bailed out by the government. Before that, he was an agent. Chris Heck was a basketball guy, specifically an NBA and USA Basketball guy.

De Bontin brings business acumen and soccer experience on both sides of the Atlantic (with the emphasis on this side of the Atlantic). Roxburgh doesn't, but Roxburgh did spend 18 years watching and assembling "technical analyses" among other duties related to tactics in Europe.

Many would prefer incremental change to no change at all and that's what the de Bontin/Roxburgh partnership feels like. Like a bit of a lurch away from the Euro Knows Best ethos of Soler/Backe and closer to more intercontinental experience. A sort of weird middle ground between Americans running an American organization and Europeans running an American organization.

It might not be what fans are longing for, and for them it might feel closer to what the Red Bulls had. But at the same time, it's closer to what they want than many realize.

Whether we're closer to our brothers-in-dysfunction, Chivas, or further away is in the eye of the beholder.

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