Running with DMC: Shadowing Darren McCartney
Most people involved in putting together a soccer match have a very specific job, and it’s easy to tell if they’re doing a good job. From the people taking the tickets to the players on the field, everyone has a task to accomplish. As Chivas USA’s Director of Operations, Darren McCartney is in charge of many different things, and when he does a good job, nobody will notice his work. On October 15, cdchivasusa.com shadowed Darren to find out just how he makes it all come together.
Darren is a critical part of the gameday experience for Chivas USA, responsible for making sure everyone does their job at the right time, and the timing and production of the entire match run smoothly. Supervising everything from getting the players to exit the locker room at the right time to getting people the proper credentials for people participating in pre-match festivities, Darren is probably the busiest person at every game. Helping him is a down-to-the-minute, 33-page timeline for the match, detailing every facet of the game production.
“I like to think of my job as Director of Operations being like the producer of a movie,” Darren said. “You don’t necessarily always get to see me but [I’m] putting everything together behind the scenes to make sure that the event is successful.”
During the week, Darren works to prepare for a home game by communicating with Chivas USA office staff, players and coaches, and staff from The Home Depot Center to set a script for the game. This document includes the timing for exactly when the team enters and exits the field, when the kids playing soccer at halftime need to finish, even when each birthday should be announced over the loudspeaker.
Darren has been working in soccer since the inaugural season of Major League Soccer in 1996, when he headed up Operations for the L.A. Galaxy at the Rose Bowl. After two years he took a position in Miami with CONCACAF, organizing events on the road for three weeks out of every month. Darren still travels back to Miami from Los Angeles quite often to visit his wife and three daughters, who still live there.
On game days, Darren gets to the stadium 12 or so hours before kickoff and meets his staff in a small locker room. Darren describes his game-day staff as “the typical dysfunctional family” and many have been working with him since his first job with the Galaxy. They joke and catch up for awhile, but once game-day preparation begins, it is all business. Darren stations himself on the field and goes over the schedule once more. While he prepares as much as possible, he often has to communicate with staff around the stadium to deal with the small problems that come up every game.
After kickoff, Darren is pacing along the field, checking in with the 15-20 members of his staff and ensuring that everything in the stadium is going according to schedule. Although his job can be stressful, Darren is excited for Chivas USA’s bright future.
“[Chivas USA] is a young organization that has tremendous upside. I also love being a part of the soccer movement, being a part of that experience. Reflecting back in ten or fifteen years I look forward to saying, ‘I remember when we were here, and now we are so much bigger, more mainstream, we are one of the top three sports in this country.’”