Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Near brawl

Tuesday's Chivas USA training session was one of the more interesting ones I've been a part of in a long time and it didn't have anything to do with the players or really the team itself.

The short of it: a Chivas USA assistant, well, he's the team administrator, tried to physically remove a reporter from La Opinion out of the training session. Here's a story from La Opinion on it with a picture to boot!

From my, ahem, Sideline View, I saw pretty much everything that transpired from, well, the sideline. I got to training after a few Spanish-speaking reporters had, guys I'm not familiar with so I figured they were there to talk to Dennis Alas of El Salvador and Freddy Thompson of Guatemala, who are training with the team. Ivan Orozco of the LA Daily News and Jaime Cardenas who is now interning with the LA Times showed up and we were watching the team train and try to figure out how they'll fill the holes in the starting lineup for this weekend's game. Then Cristian Echeverria of La Opinion showed up. He had a small digital camera with him. I guess he had been out on Monday but Freddy Thompson hadn't so he was there again on Tuesday.

Midway through the training session, Freddy was hurt. He sat on a cart on the side of the field, right next to a fence that divides that field and the adjacent one, as team trainers tended to him. I wasn't paying too much attention to it and was talking to Ivan and Jaime when all of the sudden the Chivas USA team administrator starts yelling at someone. He was standing behind one of the goals the team was using and ran off the other side of the fence. At first, I thought a fan had walked back there or something. There were several fans out there but they were behind the parking lot fence. The Chivas official, Kevin Esparza, seemed extremely agitated and was cussing, lots. "Get the F_ out of here" and things like that.

It took me a second to realize that it was Cristian he was yelling at. Apparently, Cristian had gone behind the fence. The story said he was trying to take some pictures of Freddy. As Kevin raced toward Cristian, Cristian started yelling back at him too and telling him he was a reporter and Kevin said something like 'I don't give a F_." Kevin tried to close the gate in Cristian's face but Cristian walked through it and they kept going at it. They started pushing each other and at this point Chivas' goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel intervened and that's the picture that ran with the story.

So it got very quiet, well, except for the Kevin and Cristian. I looked over at the team and they had stopped and were all looking. It was kind of strange and funny at the same time.

Cooler heads finally prevailed. Kevin walked away from Cristian and eventually some other Spanish-speaking assistants went over to Cristian, including Martin Vasquez who is the nicest guy incidentally. But I cringed a little when Cristian yelled over to Kevin about three minutes or so after the two had separated. Apparently, Cristian hadn't gotten it all out his system.

Soon after some Chivas officials came out and apparently took care of the matter.

It caught me off guard because I've not had these kinds of problems with the team before, and I've covered them literally from Day One. It's unusual to see that sort of hostility.


Anonymous said...

What was it that set the guy from Chivas off, was it a reporter was taking a picture. It sounds like alot of reporters were there, what was his beef with just the one guy???

L.B. said...

Cristian had gone behind a fence to get closer to Freddy. Though Cristian was technically within his bounds (it was essentially another field Cristian was on) Kevin probably felt like Cristian was somewhere he shouldn't have been.

A.C. said...

Wow, this is one that surprises me. Kevin is usually a very nice guy, though like a lot of Chivas USA staffers, his loyalty to the team is very strong and perhaps compromised his objectivity in a case like this. Poor Christian.
Considering the way that you and I often take photos at practices, this could have been us. Yikes.

L.B. said...

Yeah, Kevin's been nothing but nice to me. They're all pretty cool with me. Usually I'm snapping pictures like crazy at training (except of course the day this happened) and they've never said anything to me about it, one way or the other. They probably think I'm crazy because I shoot so many pictures.

Anonymous said...

Time for Christian to invest in a telephoto lens

bdure said...

Geez -- rough week for the media. Should I show up at RFK tomorrow with a helmet?

L.B. said...

Might I suggest some chainmail. It's heavy, but if you wear it under your clothes you'll be protected.

Anonymous said...

The reporter had previously been in an area where he shouldn't have been. After being told he couldn't be there, he moved on to another restricted area (in this case, where the "brawl" happened).