Guest Blogger Chris Cognac: A Chivas USA Convert

i-a2de627e1e67f425812184ee905510d2-NWS-BEATCOP-SH1.JPGSgt. Chris Cognac, who works for a South Bay Police Department, is also a food, wine and travel writer for the Daily Breeze and hosted “The Hungry Detective” on the Food Network. Cognac is a season ticket holder for the L.A. Avengers Arena Football team and will soon become a Chivas USA season ticket holder. In this guest post, he explains how he discovered his love of soccer and why he spurned the Galaxy for Chivas USA.

I was raised in Torrance and like a typical teenager in the 1980s I loved football and wrestling.

I didn’t really care much for soccer. I wouldn’t take time out of my busy teenage schedule to watch a game (besides, there weren’t many girls there).

I remember my disdain for the fact Cal State Dominguez Hills was going to allow a soccer stadium to built on campus for a sport that like 50 people watched. I mean, where was I going to see Lollapalooza now!

While I had an outward disdain for soccer, I was secretly impressed by the likes of Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas, who ran so fast his wild red hair would streak back like his head was on fire.

Still, while soccer was cool for all those English dudes, this was California.

Then 2008 came along, I was fat from filming for the Food Network and needed to do something else besides eating in restaurants, so I became addicted to Arena Football and the Los Angeles Avengers. Well, that season ended (not well I might add) and I needed a “fix.” I had to find a sport to love, to scream at the top of my lungs in support of, to obsess over the players, to bond with the fans and become “part of”.

And, oh yeah, it had to be affordable for my family of four, just like Arena Football.

Beckham, Beckham, Beckham – all I heard about was David Beckham. Maybe I should just go check out this soccer thing at Home Depot Center.

Well, I clicked on the Galaxy Web site and saw that a family four-pack was $100 bucks for four tickets and four hats. I wasn’t into soccer that much to spend a “Hundy” for a game.

Then I discovered Chivas USA also played at Home Depot Center and for $58 I could get four tickets, four hats – and four hot dogs. I couldn’t click fast enough to order – but I couldn’t figure out the stupid online ordering thing.

Enter the most important guy in my Chivas USA world – ticket rep John Santos.

John set me up with tickets and answered my important questions:
*Is the game announced in Spanish or English? (Both, it turned out).
*Are there fights in the stands? – I had seen English soccer riots on TV. (He assured me that Chivas USA games are family friendly and I would have a good time).

I bought the “coolest looking” jerseys in MLS and went with my wife, Martha, and the boys. Game time came and before I knew it, I was cheering along with the Union Ultras yelling “Chivas USA, Chivas USA” at the top of my lungs. My adrenaline was kicking in, my wife and boys were screaming and I realized – what was this? – I was screaming for soccer. And loving it!

Like a giant tuna, I was hooked. And when they scored and the announcer yelled GOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL!!!, I began making plans for a return to Home Depot Center to cheer on Chivas USA again!!

I managed to get to a Galaxy game a short time after and while it was OK (Landon Donovan is amazing), it just didn’t “do it” for me.

I mean, it’s so “West side.” The crowd just does not seem to get into the game like a Chivas USA crowd does.

You get lots of “snooty” looks from the “don’t you know who I am” type crowd (no, I don’t know who you are and you don’t know who I am, so we are even). We all felt the “vibe” and felt like outsiders.

When we are at a Chivas USA game my family feels like we are truly part of the “international” crowd of soccer with drums, chants and horns. It’s very worldly. I feel part of something bigger – and not that I just came to see Beckham.

I have been to CONCACAF Champions League and SuperLiga games with my boys rooting hard for Chivas USA.

Seeing my favorite players like Ante Razov, Sacha Klejstan, Paulo Nagamura and Jim Curtin (that dude works hard!) became so exciting. I am a soccer “junkie.”

Then today I went to the HDC box office to get some Galaxy tickets, since I needed something to do on Saturday.

I was told by the box office that the least expensive ticket available was $42! Wow – I wasn’t about to pay almost $200 bucks for four tickets to watch the LAST PLACE team lose yet again.

I looked behind me and saw the Chivas USA players walking out the door and down the sidewalk to practice. I asked one of them, “are your practices open, can I watch?”

“Sure,” they replied, so I followed them down to the field and from about 10 feet away, observed these athletes practicing. For them, it seemed to be about “love and passion” for the game. They all had smiles on and great attitudes about practicing. Impressed and tired from just watching them, I took that as a sign from the gods that I was destined to be a Chivas USA fan!

I wish them luck for the rest of the season and hope that I can take my family to watch them in the playoffs and MLS Cup (hear that Galaxy?). Destiny and good value brought us together.

If you have not gone to an MLS game, check out Chivas USA.

Oh, and did I mention that the Chivas USA mascot “Chiva Fighter” is about the coolest mascot ever – plus he gave my seven-year-old the scarf he was wearing. (How great is that!)

Now where do I get red and white paint to make stripes on my face for the next game?

See you in the end zone section!

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Michoacano

    Great article! The Union Ultras are the Official Supporters of Chivas USA. No matter who comes to town, we will be here for Chivas USA. This is the real Los Angeles team. The Union Ultras chant in English and Spanish. We welcome all Chivas USA fans with open arms. Nick, please have Sgt. Cognac and other Chivas USA fans join us at UnionUltras.com.

    Thanks

    Michoacano

  • http://www.mls-daily.com TJ

    Errr… well I have seen more than my fair share of fights at Chivas USA games this season, so that’s a bit of a truth-stretcher.

    But I, too, am spurning the Galaxy for Chivas USA. Even though I’ve had Galaxy season tickets for the past three seasons (pre-Beckham days), there has not been nearly enough return on the colossal investment to justify forking over another $880 for sideline seats.

    I’ve even convinced a few of friends to get season tickets for CUSA next year as well.

    I just wish the club could attract passionate fans in bigger numbers so that the atmosphere would be even better, but you can’t really knock the price of tickets over there. I bought the 5-game package this season, and got to see Blanco, Beckham and others, with my tickets costing just $10/game.

    If Chivas USA can manage to keep their young stars and attract a high-profile name in the off-season, they will be selling out the HDC in no time as well.

  • EdTheZombie

    Thank God the squatters will be gone after next season. Chivas USA really has “fans”. The best fans, huh. I want to see Chivas USA try to fill the HDC when it’s not a Galaxy or more recently Chicago Fire game. Real Chivas fans hate anything that has to do with Chivas USA. Count how many people wear Guadalajara jerseys rather than CUSA kits.

    Oh, and one more thing about the fans. I’ve never seen a Galaxy game where two supporters group fought each other. That just shows you the idiocy of these so called fans.

    The Galaxy are in last place, but they’re selling out EVERY game. Chivas USA could be in first place and only crack 12k.

  • Michoacano

    Ed,

    The Union Ultras have members that do not support Chivas GDL. Some support Cruz Azul, Pumas, Toluca, Atlante, Monarcas, even America. This is a different league and therefore we can unite for our team. There are members that support the USA, Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Germany. We are as diverse as our team. The Union Ultras are here for Chivas USA!

    You should ask LARS and ACB about confrontations amongst them. Maybe you haven’t seen them, the same way Sgt. Cognac hasn’t. He was only describing his first hand experience.

    The reason for the confrontation between the Legion and Union Ultras was because Legion mebers had a problem with one of the Union Ultras that was one of their members before. The day of the incident, Union Ultras got involved in helping out two female Galaxy Supporters that were getting their scarves pulled off their necks. Ask members of the ACB about this incident. So please, before you talk, get the facts.

    You should come on over and support a real team. We have struggled through many injuries and continue to be above you guys on the table. Even then, we are not happy with the way our team has played or with certain coaching decisions. How much longer will you be following a team that is year after year in the bottom of the table and continues to fail making the playoffs?

    Have a nice day!

  • stacey

    Chris is right on the money. I too went to my first Chivas game this season and am hooked as well. The atmosphere is festive and the supporters are down to the earth, fun, hardworking people who love their team win or lose. So what if they don’t draw the same number of “fans” as Galaxy. Were they around before Beckham or do they go to just jump on the proverbial “bandwagon”? What message to we give our children if we teach them to only support something because everyone else does. I for one will be a life long Chivas supporter and not one of the snobby uptight people in the stands at a Galaxy game. As a lifelong Dodger fan I have seen the same ignorance Angel fans have towards us. They assume we are all gang bangers and that Dodger Stadium is not safe. Snobs. Thanks for the great article and GO CHIVAS ’08!

  • Chivas USA fan

    lol Nice try Galaxy fan, sure you can sell tickets to soccer moms all you want, and bring David Beckham’s friends to watch the games. Yet, Galaxy atmosphere is dead. You don’t have the same passion we Chivas USA fans have. Speaking of SG fighting, I wouldn’t talk hypocrite. Its not about the SGs, its all about one team Chivas USA. Don’t be jealous.

    Wake up and smell the future.
    We are the real team in LA.

  • http://aol Bill

    Zombie, I bet you have a sparkling personality. You took a positive article about the sport of soccer and tried to make it a negative. Well it didn’t work. Welcome Sgt. Cognac, Great article I’ll rooting the Chivas into the play-offs with you. Go Chivas!!!!

  • Anne

    Ed, last year Chivas USA WAS in first place, they were the best team in the league and had it not been for David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco their attendance would have been 10k.

    There’s no way that the atmosphere at a game with 10k matches that at a game with 27k. It’s almost depressing to watch Chivas USA. 200 people or so?

    The positive is that Sgt. Cognac will have a real team to support soon. I’ve heard the name FC Los Angeles rumored online. Unfortunately for Sgt. Cognac (based on his location) the team might also up and move to Santa Ana to play in their own 20k stadium, too.

    Only one team in LA. Then another team in Orange County.

  • Townendpaul

    Well real passion about this great game. I am from England and I am a Chivas fan. HOW you may ask, easy came the reply: the Union Ultras are part of a worldwide brotherhood of the most passionate fans in the world and we all have the same thing in common – the love of the game, the atmosphere, the friendship, and supporting your team all the way up or down!! The Union Ultras are the most friendly, and open bunch of people you could wish to know. Try out their Web pages and their forum, or better still get to a game and enjoy the whole experience.
    Now I have never been to a Chivas game YET, but i go every week to an English league team – Swindon Town FC – so I am not one of those so-called fans who follow the fashionable teams, go with your heart and not with the herd if you want a true experience.
    yours Townend Paul England
    Go Chivas Go Swindon Town