Having a team's fans launch an open rebellion against ownership is bad enough, especially for a team like Chivas USA who can use all the support they can get. This kind of stuff has and does happen all around the world, in fact. It's rarely effective, but it's almost never a net positive for the organization.
What's going on at Chivas USA, though, is considerably worse than your normal group of unruly fans, dissatisfied with the organization's direction. No, this is much bigger and it stretches beyond just Chivas USA.
By now, you've heard all about the fan protest at Sunday's game against the LA Galaxy. Black Army 1850, one of Chivas USA's two main supporters' groups, after having their protest signs removed from the stadium decided to take their displeasure to the skies. Prompted by a group of funders from Reddit, Black Army 1850 backed efforts to take their protests to the sky.
The picture at the top of the story is a fair illustration of that protest. I'm told that if you knew it was happening and you looked, you could read the sign. But as far as I know, these kinds of grainy photos are the best images currently available. They also had some in-stadium chants:
As an isolated incident, the protest may not have been particularly effective. But whatever it lacked in the moment it has made up for with staying power. This protest has been discussed by virtually every major soccer blog, been featured on numerous podcasts and even got a mention on the live telecast. MLS fans are definitely aware of the growing unrest.
While that might be embarrassing enough for Chivas USA, and to a lesser degree MLS, how the protest was funded and where it might lead should be of greater concern. One aspect of the protest that hasn't received the attention that it probably deserves it how it was funded and initiated.
It wasn't just a project funded by Chivas USA fans, you see, this was something that fans from all around MLS helped make happen. This post on Reddit helped raise $715. Once the money was raised, Black Army 1850 was apparently asked for their permission to actually carry out the protest. Now, Black Army is asking supporters' groups all around MLS to display protest signs whenever Chivas USA comes to town.
So to away supporters, if we were to create a banner #VERGARAOUT so when our Goats play at you stadium. Would you display it?— Black Army 1850 (@BlackArmy1850) June 24, 2013
Judging from the response on Twitter, it appears many supporters' groups are only more than happy to help the cause.
Why would anyone else care? Well, one of the side effects of MLS's single-entity model is that the league really only is as strong as the weakest link. In this case, it's hard to argue against Chivas USA being that weak link. As I've talked about before, the organization is a bit of a dumpster fire. They don't have an English-language TV contract, they are regularly drawing only a few thousand actual people to their games, they don't seem to have any coherent talent acquisition plan, they are being sued by some former academy coaches and they have never accomplished their seemingly singular goal of attracting more Hispanics to MLS.
It's entirely possible that the so-called "haters" have less ... reasonable ... reasons for disliking Chivas USA ownership. But the reality is that there are a lot of people, like myself, who have been willing to give Chivas USA the benefit of the doubt but are simply fed up now.
I, like many others, would love to find out that there really is a "plan" behind all these head-scratching decisions. But no one at Chivas USA is providing one and MLS has so far only gone on record to say they support the current ownership. When no information is available, though, people to jump to their own conclusions. Right now, all those conclusions are very bad.