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Galaxy and Chivas USA share a personnel connection

Ante Jazic, Juan Pablo Angel and David Junior Lopes are among those who've played for both clubs. Such trades can help the MLS teams as well as the players and their families.

May 12, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy embrace after defeating the Timbers last month in Portland.
Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy embrace after… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

James Riley passed through three Major League Soccer franchises in two countries within a matter of minutes last November — all without leaving his living room.

Left unprotected by the Seattle Sounders in the MLS expansion draft, he was selected by the fledgling Montreal Impact, which immediately traded him to Chivas USA. So over the next few months Riley had to rent an apartment in a strange city, find a yoga studio, locate the nearest grocery store and — most important — learn the quickest route between his new home and the Home Depot Center.

Compare that to the move Ante Jazic made when Chivas traded for him on the eve of the 2009 season.

"You literally pick up your boots and go 30 feet down the hallway," says Jazic, who was acquired from the Galaxy, Chivas' roommate at the Home Depot Center. "Your life stays the same aside from the part it's a different locker room. So it was definitely an easy transition."

And, all things being equal, that's the kind of transition Chivas General Manager Jose Domene and Galaxy General Manager and Coach Bruce Arena would like to exploit as often as possible. Which explains why, when the teams meet in the first of three regular-season games May 19, there will be seven players on the two rosters who have been part of both teams.

"It's always easier on the players," says Domene, who has made two in-season trades with the Galaxy in less than two years with Chivas. "It's easier on the club because of relocation. It's easier to adapt the player."

Chivas USA and the Galaxy are the only two teams in major U.S. professional sports that train and play at the same facility. As a result the players share the same hallways and parking lots and the teams' first-floor administrative offices are just a few feet apart.

That familiarity not only makes deals easier to consummate — the two teams have combined on nearly a dozen transactions since Chivas joined the league in 2005 — it makes it easier for the players to acclimate once they have been dealt.

"You see them every day, so you have a little bit of interaction with them," says Jazic, who thanked Arena when the Galaxy sent him to Chivas, allowing him to stay in Los Angeles. "If you're going to get traded, it's a perfect situation."

Especially if, like forward Juan Pablo Angel, you have a wife and two kids who would have had to move if you were traded to another city.

"In terms of convenience, it worked out perfectly," says Angel, who scored seven times in his first nine games with Chivas after changing teams last August. "Especially guys with families. You don't have to put your family under the strain of having to go somewhere else and change everything — schools, stuff like that.

"So it's literally changing dressing rooms."

What's more, both teams can argue the trades worked out well on the field too. When the Galaxy gave up Jazic, for example, it received the draft pick it used to select standout defender A.J. DeLaGarza. And when Chivas sent another draft pick down the hall last summer, it got back Angel, a veteran leader and the team's top offensive threat.

"We're making all of these deals that we feel are in the best interests of the Galaxy," Arena says. "But certainly there's a personal side to everything. We are two teams in the same city, the same venue, and whenever we can help a player out, I think it's great."

Domene agrees, pointing to the trade the teams made four weeks ago when Chivas sent center back David Junior Lopes to the Galaxy in exchange for midfielder Paolo Cardozo, filling holes on both rosters.

"There were other teams asking for Lopes and this was the best deal," he says. "The Chivas philosophy is we'll trade for the best player."

Both teams concede any trade is a bit easier when you can call the other general manager without having to dial 9 to get an outside line. However that's about as informal as it gets, Arena insists.

"Our two organizations get along well," he says. "But I don't want that made public if we're talking [trades] in the men's room."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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