If you heard a massive cheer yesterday in the afternoon it was probably every MLS fans in your proximity reacting to the news that after this year Chivas USA would be no more. In case you hadn’t heard, which I don’t know is possible, MLS purchased the franchise from owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. Vergara, Fuentes, and another partner had purchased a franchise in the league ten years ago and entered the league at the same time as Real Salt Lake. Aside from a few years where they were good, Chivas USA has mostly been a wreck with a string of poor coaches, crazy decisions, and negative publicity surrounding the club.
MLS had been working with Chivas USA to try and resolve some of their issues but the damage had already been done. By the time the league had stepped in Vergara had alienated much of the team’s fanbase. Vergara was too preoccupied by Chivas in Mexico and simply didn’t put enough effort into the team. It was bound to fail.
As team you are only as strong as your weakest player. The same is true for MLS. Chivas USA had become too much of a drag on the league, especially when you consider the additions of New York, Orlando, and Miami. A half a season of attendance at Chivas USA would only come close to what they get up in Seattle for one game. That’s crazy. Something had to be done.
So what will happen to the franchise? We do know that the league is searching for other owners and that they want them to stay in Los Angeles at their own stadium. We don’t think that is as bad of idea as some suggest. Having two teams in L.A. is good for television. The area is large enough to support two teams if they are put in the right markets within the region. L.A. already has two baseball teams, two basketball teams, and two hockey teams. However, only the basketball teams play in the same arena and that only happen in the last few years. All of the other franchises have distinct areas and distinct fanbases. If Chivas were to move to Orange County, the Inland Empire, or some other area it would thrive as long as it was out of the Galaxy’s shadow.
The Galaxy are very much a suburban team. They have their rabid fanbase but they also bring in a lot of families. If there is one thing we have learned with the growth of MLS over the last few years it’s that teams with downtown stadiums do better. That’s harder to do in L.A. given how the city works but MLS should strive hard to put the team where their strongest demographic (18-40 year old males) lives.
In terms re-branding the club has a few options but ultimately it will be up to the new owners to decide. If we had an input we’d suggest going with the L.A. Aztecs. Most American soccer fans love talking about the sport’s history and fewer clubs are more iconic than the Aztecs. Plus, it still keeps some of the Latino heritage that was the driver behind Chivas USA. Los Angeles FC and Los Angeles SC were named that have been mooted for the franchise. Those would work too. Essentially we want them to keep it a soccer name and not a generic American sports franchise name.
Overall, there is a lot to be excited about by the news. MLS can finally cast off what has been keeping it down and the league can become even stronger. Now only if they would stop expanding but that’s a conversation for another day.
Curtis Reed is the Homegrown Player