Sitting Down With Stephen Hamilton: Part II
This is part two in a two-part interview with Chivas USA Vice President of Soccer Operations Stephen Hamilton. To read part one, click here.
How much interaction do you have with fans?
“I try to keep my nose to the ground. We are pretty honest with ourselves downstairs with the coaches in terms of where we are and what we need to become. We are probably more critical of ourselves than anyone else is. In the stadium and at events, we get a chance to hear from fans. I also read some of the media comments to keep my finger on the pulse of things.”
Since you were hired by Chivas USA, what is the longest time that you have spent without having your phone nearby?
“Probably when I work out, so an hour or an hour-and-a-half. When I sleep, I try to keep the phone in the living room so I do not have to hear it in the middle of the night. The first thing I do when I wake up is to check my e-mail and voice mails. Since we are on the West Coast, we are three hours behind, so usually my first call is to the East Coast, checking in with the league or another team. You are also working with Europe and South America that are on different time zones, so the days usually start early and end late.”
What do you consider the best move that you have completed?
“I think we have done a number of good things. We have had success in the draft. This year, we are all proud of that Ben [Zemanski] and Blair [Gavin] have come in and started quite a few games for us. Last year, Michael Lahoud came in and did a very good job for us. The Justin Braun story is unique, and you have to give the coaching staff credit for finding him and believing in him. We have had a few different players that we have brought in that have done well in the short run this year.”
What role does the coaching staff have in player acquisition?
“The coaching staff has a ton of input. We work a lot with the coaching staff downstairs in the evaluation process. It is almost like a check and balance system to decide if we are interested in a potential player that we are looking at. We also have a unique system where we have a soccer committee that includes representatives from the ownership group, myself, [Investor] Antonio [Cué], and [President and CEO] Shawn [Hunter]. If we have any major decisions, such as roster moves, we present it to the committee so that everyone is on board and everyone is aware of the decisions we are trying to make. We get buy-in from that committee before we make any significant move.”
What is the toughest decision you have had to make?
“There are a lot of tough decisions. You hate to see players traded. They are never easy decisions; a lot of thought goes into them, and you do not take it lightly. We have also been in a position where we have had to transfer two players in Sasha Kjlestan and Brad Guzan, and those were not easy decisions. We were trying to balance the best interests of our club, and trying to be cognizant of helping the players satisfy their desires as well. Those were tough decisions, but we got to a point where we all felt good about it at the end of the day. The club benefited with the transfer money that came in, and the players went onto leagues that they felt were important to go on to."
When does the soccer committee meet?
“We meet every week, usually on Wednesdays, either in person or over the phone. We talk about everything, not just the first team. We discuss the soccer operations, the youth team program, and future plans.”
Future in-depth interviews are in the works, so please use the comment space to below if you have any requests or questions for a specific member of the Chivas USA staff.