Dysfunction continues at Chivas USA

Members of Chivas USA sit on the bench on Oct. 26.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

The upheaval continues at Chivas USA -- which, come to think of it, is probably no longer news.

Late Monday the team, from its headquarters in Guadalajara, said it has fired Dennis te Kloese, sporting director for Chivas teams in Mexico and the U.S. He was one day short of his one-year anniversary on the job.

“Dennis te Kloese has left his post,” the club said in a brief statement. “Club Deportivo Guadalajara SA de CV thanks Dennis te Kloese for his effort and professionalism in this period of a year as Chivas sporting president.”


Since September Chivas USA has not only gotten rid of many of the players it finished last season with, but mercurial owner Jorge Vergara has also sacked Francisco Palencia, who worked under Te Kloese as the U.S. team’s sporting director; Coach Jose Luis Real, the team’s fourth manager in less than a year; and president Jose David.

Of those only David has been replaced and the team lists just 17 players on its roster. By way of comparison the Galaxy, Chivas USA’s roommate at the StubHub Center, has 29 active players on its roster.

That all this is taking place in the middle of Chivas USA’s off-season ticket sales push should be embarrassing for the team and the league, which has continued to back Vergara despite the fact he has turned the team into the most dysfunctional franchise in major U.S. professional sports.

After reaching the Western Conference semifinals in four consecutive seasons, Chivas USA has averaged less than eight wins a season over the last four years, finishing last in the conference three times. Fittingly the team has also had the league’s worst attendance the last two seasons, drawing just 8,366 a game last year, a whopping 36% drop from the season before.

This should be of concern to the league and Commissioner Don Garber, who is negotiating a new national TV deal to replace one that will expire after next season. At a time when Garber can point to expansion, a leaguewide attendance average that tops figures for both the NBA and NHL and the highest level of play in MLS history, the league’s continued growth remains stunted by a poorly run team in its second-largest market.

Garber’s recent expansion roadshow, which has MLS exploring the possibility of placing teams in Miami; Atlanta; St. Louis; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis, proved interest in the league is at an all-time high. Selling Chivas USA and relocating the team in one of these deserving markets would both save the franchise and bolster the league.

Unless Vergara, who took over sole ownership of the team in August 2012, can right the ship quickly -- something he’s shown little ability to do with either his U.S. or Mexican teams -- the league’s owners may soon have to push the reluctant Garber into action.


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