The LA Galaxy will get the Los Angeles market to themselves for the next two years, as this morning Major League Soccer announced that Chivas USA will cease operations. While that will give the club some breathing room in the StubHub! Center, as well as the previously announced repainting of the stadium, it also comes with some increased competition in the Western Conference.
"As part of our new strategy for Southern California -- a major hotbed of soccer participation and fan support -- we believe that engaging with a new ownership group which has the resources and local community ties, and a plan for a dedicated soccer-specific stadium, provides us with the best chance for success," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo will now be West opponents, with Orlando City and New York City taking their places in the East. This competitive shift will have the longest impact on LA's yearly battle for silverware. If MLS sticks with the same system of scheduling, the Galaxy are effectively trading three games against Chivas USA per year for added battles with Kansas City and Houston.
Combine this with upcoming an upcoming Chivas USA dispersal draft and an expansion draft, not to mention the veterans retiring at the end of the year and the new CBA, means we've effectively ended the second era of MLS. It's not just a new logo next year, but an entirely new competitive look.
Reports are that Erick Torres will not be included as part of the dispersal draft, meaning there is likely a DP claim out there for him. Whichever team lands him gets a great attacker, and Dan Kennedy is available in the dispersal draft to give some team a great upgrade at goalkeeper.
Bob Foose of the MLS Players Union released this statement: "Real change has been needed for many years with respect to the Chivas franchise. Therefore, we are not surprised by today's announcement."
In the short term, shutting down an underperforming Chivas is more than balanced out by the new expansion teams with respect to available jobs. Players who want to continue playing in MLS should be more than able to find a place to get on. In the long term, both the Union and the LA Galaxy have to prepare for the re-emergence of a second team in Los Angeles.
Sports Illustrated reports that the 2017 LA 2 group will be headed by Henry Nguyen and includes Vincent Tan of Cardiff City as a minority owner. All reports are that the group will look to build a downtown stadium, although Hollywood Park has begun to creep in as a possible site.
Also worth following is what will happen to Chivas USA's academy. The LA Galaxy gained several prospects from Chivas' system some months ago, including Bradford Jamieson IV. The system may be kept intact for the future owners of LA 2, or there may be a fight between the Galaxy and Club Tijuana quite soon.