Two weeks and two games into the new MLS season, Chivas USA has produced a win and a draw despite various key injuries. The Goats have shown some depth and look like they, and not Houston, just might be the class of the Western Conference.
You wouldn’t know it based on the sparse coverage for the ‘other’ team at Home Depot Center. While David Beckham can’t sneeze without getting front-page stories written about him, Chivas USA continues to play second fiddle in a market where it has been the best team for the past two years.
SBI Correspondent John Sandate was at Home Depot Center for Chivas USA’s 3-1 win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday and what he saw was a lively crowd and impressive team, both largely ignored by the rest of the league. Sandate gives us his take on the state of Chivas USA (Feel free to provide your reaction to John’s piece in the comments section below):
Chivas USA keeps winning, keeps being ignored
By John Sandate
There’s always something special about going to the Home Depot Center on a Saturday night in the spring; fresh coastal air, fans clad in traditional red and white, and a clinical extermination of an MLS opponent. In retrospect, you can’t help but feel bad for other MLS cities that have to subject their fans to “bunker ball” soccer in cold, frigid weather.
Slow soccer on a cold night is foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong, no one will ever confuse Carson for Madrid, London or Buenos Aires, but there is something special about Chivas fans that are willing to stand for all 90 minutes (and some change) to cheer for an attacking team that can’t even buy respect from the local media.
Despite a 3-1 score, Chivas USA gets little or no love from the local media. For example, Saturday night’s official attendance was announced at 17,251. A decent but not spectacular number, but respectable at least. It may have been less than that, but not by much. What is really sad is the small blurb of a write up the team gets in the local papers with a lot of the focus being on empty seats.
I can’t totally blame the writers because negativity sells more than positivity. This is the era of sensationalism and they have to sell papers. Also, this is a Galaxy town and most of the putrid soccer coverage here consists of David Beckham’s good looks or the state of the Mexican national team. That’s soccer news in Los Angeles. As a result, dissing Chivas USA for anything is a way of life.
It’s really unfortunate, but quite common to hear “you guys are awesome, too bad you don’t have any fans,” “Good luck in the USL,” “I thought we were playing the real Chivas.” Whatever. It’s a new season and now fans of the flock can look forward to Chivas USA players giving away their authentic, sweaty, but expensive jerseys after each game. Can you say, E-B-A-Y?
Also, Chivas USA gave away soccer scarves to its fans. What MLS team gives away scarves and authentic jerseys on opening night? Exactly. And what does the team get for all of this? No respect from the media. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Well, somehow, somebody forgot to tell Chivas USA, its players, and its fans that they’re not important. After the game, the team thanked not only the Legion Kalifas on the North end, but also walked across the pitch to thank the Union Ultras (the new gang of crazies) on the South end of the stadium after the game. Spanish speaking fans, yelling Alecko! Alecko,! were finally escorted out of the Stadium after 45 minutes even though he was willing to keep signing their scarves.
Fan support may not be plentiful but it really is fervent. From this perspective, 15-16k screaming fans are better than 27k fans staring at Beckham’s face. The media can campaign to diminish the Chivas USA brand or lobby to add Los Angeles to its official team name (ala the Angels); in the meantime, these Goats keep truckin’ and moving closer to the MLS Cup.