The state of soccer in Los Angeles is thus: the LA Galaxy are on the verge of a historic level MLS season and Chivas USA are about to fold and a new second Los Angeles franchise will debut around 2017. On this final day of September in 2014, let's reflect on the state of both franchises.
Grant Wahl: LA Galaxy on course for all-time MLS greatness
I loathe the title "Greatest Ever", because it's a recognition of regular season performance in a country where playoffs decide championships across the board. The 1998 LA Galaxy team which set the MLS record for goal differential? It was good for a 68 point season, the most ever in MLS, but they lost in the Conference Final to Chicago who went on to beat the DC United team Bruce Arena cites as the best ever.
There's an outside chance the LA Galaxy can finish with two players scoring twenty or more goals. Robbie Keane needs three, Gyasi Zardes needs four. No Rose, that's never happened before. That 1998 season when the Galaxy had a goal differential of +41 they did have three goalscorers in double digits, which this year's team has already matched.
The 2014 version of the LA Galaxy are a really good team, but this isn't a league or a culture where regular season performance is remembered forever. Greatest ever talk happens during the season, but it becomes moot unless the season ends with a Super Bowl win, or a Rose Bowl win, or an MLS Cup win.
Down the hall from this greatest-of-all-time team is the walking dead. There was a point where the rivalry turned to pity. Chivas fans were our neighbors in this city after all, and no MLS fan group is at the cool kids table of American culture. So I wasn't one to wish ill upon the Chivas fanbase.
The year before the San Jose Earthquakes were moved by AEG to Houston over frustration in getting a stadium and proper ownership group together, they won the Supporters' Shield and had an average attendance of 15,431. MLS let them keep their records and identity, while those players went on to Houston and won MLS Cup in their inaugural season.
Chivas fans are not getting the San Jose deal, they're getting the Miami/Tampa Bay deal disguised as the San Jose deal. This is not a hiatus, the team will be dissolved, the players dispersed, and none of the records will be retained. For a franchise that's lost seven straight and are winless over twelve match days, a franchise with attendance hovering around 4,000 per game unless they're hosting the Galaxy, it's not exactly a shock.
It's gotten so bad that stating facts has felt like pilling on. As much as I respect those that have stuck with the club through such a dark period, this was inevitable.
For the LA Galaxy, in the immediate future this means they'll be able to stretch their legs at the StubHub! Center, which they really only got to do for two years of the stadium's history. Perhaps those green seats which no longer match the club colors will be switched out. Permanent signage can go up around the stadium. Upgrades will be made.
Down the line, it appears the group of four buying the LA2 franchise are looking at downtown to build their stadium. There was also a mention of the Hollywood Park site of which Stan Kroenke owns a significant chunk. As tough as it would be marketing against the cool kids with a downtown stadium, a stadium and academy fields in the middle of the Inglewood/Hawthorne recruitment area that produced Jose Villarreal? That could be an issue.
The future will be different. So lets bask in a historic level present for awhile.