Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Latinos and L.A.

Before the season started, I was looking at the Galaxy roster and realized that there was not a single Hispanic player on the club. In fact, I think Landon Donovan spoke the most Spanish of any player on the club and he's not exactly Hispanic.

During the preseason, I ran into Mauricio Cienfuegos, a Galaxy legend. I'd put Cienfuegos number two in terms of legendary Galaxy players behind Cobi Jones. That guy was amazing in so many ways.

Anyway, I asked him about the lack of Hispanic players on the Galaxy. I had intended to write a story on it for The Press-Enterprise, and in fact I did. The only problem was it kept getting held because the Ducks decided to win the Stanley Cup this year. So it got held and held and held some more.

Now that Carlos Pavon is joining the Galaxy, the story is dead. It'll have to take a new focus now if I want to resurrect it. I don't even know if I'll be able to use any of the Cienfuegos quotes I got anywhere at this point.

Well, anywhere but here.

Now, there were a lot of other interesting points I brought up in the Galaxy story that may or may not be included in the new-and-improved Hispanic story, such as when the Galaxy passed up a player in the draft who is a superstar now to take a local Hispanic talent who fizzled out. If that's not in my story for Saturday, then I'll make sure and put that in here.

Anyway, here's what Cienfuegos responded when I asked him what he thought of the absence of Hispanic players on his former club:

"It's sad. I'm not going to say otherwise. It's sad because you think that Latino players will always be a part of this club but for some reason they're getting away from that.

"That's fine, if that's the direction the coach wants to go in and the direction the front office wants to go in. Unfortunately, our people don't have players of their own to go see. Hopefully they recognize that when this league started the Latino community contributed immensely. To forget that now would be bad.

"Hopefully they bring in some Latino players so people will return to the stadium."

I then asked him if that thinking affected how he felt about the club.

"That love will always be there. The club transcends names and players. This club will always be in my heart."


Eric PZ said...

The Galaxy became a different club when he retired.

Kenny said...

I completely agree with eric. This team hasn't had a decent midfield since Cien left.

L.B. said...

They had some pretty damn good midfielders back when they had Cien and when Cobi was Cobi and also Danny Pena was around and Simon Elliott and Martin Machon... they were pretty stacked.

There was no room for Quarantas back then, that's for sure.

A.C. said...

Cien is a Galaxy legend. Cobi is still here, but it saddens me that all the Beckham-come-lately's will probably have no clue how great Cien was and how vital to establishing the Galaxy as a premier team in the early days.

Anonymous said...

who is the alleged superstar they passed in the draft? i am intrigued...

Anonymous said...

i just don't get the whole ethnic pandering thing. hasn't anyone learned that ethinc pandering doesn't equal victories? furthermore, why is soccer so subject to this non-sense? it isn't like all the latino raider fans say, "god i would really cheer more for the raiders if they had more latinos on the team."

i have never understood it and i never will. it seems that everyone forgot that the players are playing for the name on the front, not the name on the back. the fans should follow the same idea.


Anonymous said...

This is economics and business 101, pure and simple and the Galaxy chose to consciously pursue a different business model by excluding Latinos from the team.

I exchanged some commentary with AC in another Galaxy post about the change of direction from the Galaxy.

Alexi Lalas and Yallop and co. have made a business decision to pursue a different fan base. They have that right. The Beckham effect is an attempt to attract a more affluent crowd to HD and therefore attract incidental profits from television exposure and european coverage.

In other words in respose to DMH attracting Beckham in a sense is ethnic pandering.

Second, MLS is really stepping up their marketing game with the Latino demographic because--it is simple supply and demand.

In contrast, Lalas and co. chose to go a different route, the Latino demographic is fanatical about attending soccer matches because of the love of the sport. Therefore the supply side is there and so is the financial windfall from a smart executing on the fan side, and now all MLS needs to do is continue to create a demand such as when they brought Chivas to play Barcelona last year. A few more marquee signings and some exciting home grown guys and more international matches such as Super Liga will continue to improve the business model.

In sum, I do disagree with a.c. because the Galaxy chose to consciously pursue a different route with the type of fan they want to support them, it was a business choice and this is a free country to pursue particular business models. If the Galaxy feel the Latinos should support Chivas USA instead so be it. And yes, I miss Cienfeugos, he was my favorite player as well. I even liked Campos.

In response to the Pavon signing, I do not know if the Galaxy bowed to public pressure or if they realized they were in last place and needed to somebody to score goals. In any case, I love Pavon's game but I hope there are more guys to follow as well.


A.C. said...

I disagree with you because I believe the Galaxy signed both Beckham and Pavon to help the team win. Both have recently proven they have the skills to do just that.

The fact that they are popular players adds to the allure, but to assess every signing as an indication of a team pursuing an ethnic market is cynical at best.