I'm asking this as an open question not because I necessarily think there's already reason to think the Chivas train is derailing (ie prepare to crash), but simply because there is certainly already occasion to wonder what's going on there (ie some eyebrows are raised). In other words, we're only three games into the season so I don't think we can yet pass judgment. But there are some things worth discussing. A couple questions I'm thinking about. One, what constitutes success for Chivas off the field? Two, what constitutes success for Chivas on the field? Let's take them one at a time. Before opening day I'd called Chivas a couple times about the group ticket purchase I was part of and every time I had a ticket rep on the phone I'd ask how things were going. I always got the impression that things were not going well, but they didn't want to admit that and were putting on a good face. I got the same feeling when I showed up in person at the Chivas front office the day before the game to pick up my tickets. "It's going to be a sellout," they assured me time and again. It wasn't. In fact, at 18,493 it was the absolute worst franchise opening attendance ever in the history of MLS. Sure, there may have been mitigating circumstances (the evidence for which is nothing more than postulation and allegory). But let's be honest here. Before kickoff on opening day the conventional wisdom was that anything less than an absolute sellout would be a failure and an embarrassment. When on opening day Chivas USA failed to deliver the sellout, and in fact failed even to deliver an impressive crowd, eyebrows were rightfully raised. Even if they're not drawing fans at home in expected number perhaps they are having success drawing fans away. It's too early to tell when there's a sustained effect here, but among the 11,519 that showed up in San Jose last week there certainly were a fair number of Chivas supporters. But is that going to be the case in all markets? Will it be repeated next time they're in San Jose? It's too early to say much on this count, but perhaps they'll help sell tickets in at least a few markets. Still, it's hardly going to be on par with last year's Freddy Adu Road Show. But is it really the primary job on an MLS team to sell tickets on the road.? No, it's job is to sell ticket at home. It was not my impression that Chivas USA was being brought into the league to be the Latino equivalent of the average MLS team. (I will not name the actual MLS team I'm thinking about so as not to offend.) They were billed to be something of a phenomenon. Do phenomenons have paltry attendance at home? I don't think they're supposed to. Last night Chivas USA drew 12,697 fans to the Home Depot Center. For many teams around the league that number wouldn't raise eyebrows. However, that number is actually the lowest attendance at a regular season MLS game at Home Depot Center ever. (The previous low of 13,867 was from a Wednesday night game in 2003.) But does Chivas USA actually need good crowds at home? They are the second team in LA, and maybe the numbers they’re getting will be enough to make them financially worthwhile. But if that’s the case then isn't Chivas USA just riding the Galaxy’s coattails. Is that worthwhile? For AEG? For Vergara? I don’t know. On the field I’m not convinced the Chivas USA plan is working. They lost at home on opening day against a very suspect DC United (that’s my team, but let’s be honest, we’re not exactly in championship form). They did put in a good performance against San Jose, but San Jose hasn’t been terribly impressive this year, and it was a strange – though entertaining game. I’m not sure what to take out of that game in regards to Chivas. But last night against Dallas (granted, what I think may be the best team in the league right now) they were absolutely trounced. The 3-1 score was fitting, but it probably should have been 3-1 by the end of the first half. Chivas was totally exposed by Dallas. It was men against boys. Yes, of course - they’re an expansion side. It will take time for them to come together, and Dallas is a very good team right now. But do you think Dallas could have manhandled Real Salt Lake the way they did Chivas last night? I don’t think so. Maybe in the end Dallas would have beat Salt Lake by the same margin, but over the course of 90 minutes I actually think it would have been a more even affair. Granted, I was skeptical about the way Chivas is building its team from the start. But I’m very open to being surprised. If they were playing better than I expected I would freely and happily admit it. But they’re not. As it is, I’m more and more skeptical that they’ll be able to field a winning side anytime soon. A while back Vergara was talking trash saying that this year DC United could only aspire to be the second best team in MLS. His Chivas USA would be the undisputed best. He's changed his tune since opening day. Now we keep hearing about a five year plan to build a competitive side. Five years? FIVE YEARS? By the fifth year of its existence DC United had won three MLS Cups, one US Open Cup, two Supporters Shields, one CONCACAF Champions Cup, and one InterAmerican Cup. It does not take five years to build a highly competitive MLS side. You can ask Chicago too. Is the Chivas train derailing? I don’t know for sure, but nothing I’ve seen over the last few weeks has made me any less skeptical. The product on the field looks poor, and the fans in the stands are sparse. I asked a while back “What if CD Chivas USA sucks?," and my hunch at the time was that “the success of this team is very much predicated upon its success on the field. Folks will give the team a chance, but if they don't deliver a satisfactory product that lives up to the Chivas brand name I doubt those folks will come back.” I think I have to modify that statement today because when I wrote that I was pretty sure people in large numbers would give them a chance. Today the evidence seems to suggest just the opposite. They’re not at all the draw they were supposed to be. And if Vergara really thinks it’ll take five years to build a competitive side then I must openly question whether there’ll be anyone left in the stands at the end of those years. The fan base that Chivas USA wants to tap into is not stupid. They won’t stand for a poor and losing side, particularly not when they can easily watch the real Chivas on TV. After writing all that I’m actually wondering whether I’ve asked the wrong question. Perhaps the question isn’t whether the Chivas train is derailing, but whether the Chivas train is actually going to get rolling down the tracks to begin with.