New Chivas USA owener Jorge Vergara is as involved as any owner in sports. (Refugio Ruiz / Mexsport )
Mexican businessman Jorge Vergara, who assumed full control of Chivas USA on Wednesday night, apparently didn't wait long to make his first move. Sources close to the team and Major League Soccer say General Manager Jose Domene was dismissed Thursday.
And that's not likely to be Vergara's only move. Although Coach Robin Fraser is said to be safe for the moment, Vergara isn't known to be patient with his managers, having gone through 16 in 10 seasons with Chivas of Guadalajara, the Mexican league club he owns.
A number of other front-office personnel are also expected to lose their jobs this week.
Among the candidates to fill one of those openings is former Chivas of Guadalajara Coach Jose Luis Real, who once supervised the team's youth academies. Vergara has reportedly been talking with Real, who would be a good fit in Los Angeles as either a coach or general manager.
Vergara also has some decisions to make about the team's future off the field. Chivas USA is said to have reached an agreement to leave the Home Depot Center, the only home it has known, for a new soccer-specific stadium in Exposition Park. But that move has been slowed by the ethics scandal that has engulfed the Coliseum Commission.
Vergara could also decide that move won't be enough to get his team out from under the large shadow of the deep-pocketed Galaxy -- Chivas USA's roommate at the Home Depot Center -- and may try to move the team out of state instead, with Arizona heading a list of potential sites.
But sources close to the team say they believe Vergara would welcome a showdown with the Galaxy despite the fact that Chivas USA's attendance has fallen more than 11% this season to an averasge of 13,127, the second-lowest total in the 19-team league.
Vergaga, founder of the nutritional supplement company Grupo Omnilife, joined Antonio and Lorenzo Cue in founding Chivas in 2004. But after reaching the MLS playoffs four times in its first five season, the team has floundered recently.
According to league sources, the Cues were recently given a chance to buy out Vergara and his wife, Omnilife CEO Angelica Fuentes, but declined.
Vergara and Fuentes responded by purchasing their partners' interests in the team instead, taking full control of the franchise just before Chivas USA took the field Wednesday in New England, where it played the Revolution to a 3-3 draw.
Domene, 32, who was one of the youngest general managers in U.S. professional sports, was named interim general manager in December 2010 after the team's last front-office housecleaning led to the resignations of Stephen Hamilton, vice president of soccer operations, and Shawn Hunter, the president and chief executive.
Domene was given the job on a permanent basis four months later but the team hasn't responded on the field, winning just 15 games over the last two seasons and failing to make the playoffs since 2009.
Domene was aggressive this season, signing Colombia forward Jose Erick Correa and trading for forward Juan Agudelo and midfielder Shalrie Joseph. But Correa has started just once in the last two months while Agudelo has scored only once -- on a penalty kick -- in Chivas' last 11 games.
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