Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The news so many Major League Soccer fans have been clamoring for is finally here: MLS has purchased Chivas USA.
The league announced on Thursday afternoon its purchase of Chivas USA from owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. The struggling Los Angeles-based club will be operated by MLS in 2014, but is expected to be sold to one of several interested parties in the coming months. The team will remain in LA, but will be rebranded ahead of the 2015 season.
“We thank Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes for their significant commitment to Major League Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Jorge was an early believer in the league and he and Angelica have been great partners in MLS. We collectively agreed that it is best to sell the club to new owners who are committed to securing a new stadium and providing MLS with a strong rival for the LA Galaxy.”
MLS will lead the discussions for a new stadium for Chivas USA, who currently pay to play in the Galaxy’s StubHub Center and struggle to draw anywhere near as many fans as their rivals on a consistent basis. The Goats will continue to play at the soccer-specific stadium in 2014.
The league is also expected to name an experienced sports executive as Chivas USA’s interim president in the near future. New Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera will remain with the club and report to the new president.
Since debuting in 2005, Chivas USA has mostly struggled for mediocrity on the field and had several high-profile hiccups off of it. Last year, they were sued over allegations of racism and discrimination in the work place.
Vergara has received a lot of the criticism for that given that he assumed full control of Chivas USA with Fuentes in 2012 and stated that the club needed to return to the roots of its sister club, Liga MX side Chivas de Guadalajara.
Vergara was part of the initial ownership group that bought the expansion team back in 2005.
“When Angelica and I gained full operational control of the team for the first time 15 months ago, we were hopeful we would be able to turn it around,” said Vergara. “However, there is only one Chivas de Guadalajara, and we have realized that it will require more time, further resources, and a level of commitment that would divert too much of our focus from our other business interests.
“We explored opportunities to sell to other groups, but we believe selling the franchise to MLS on an expedited basis is in the best interests of all parties, including the team’s players and its dedicated fans. MLS has assured us they are committed to keeping the club in Los Angeles and finding the right owners to make the team successful in the future. We greatly appreciate the leadership and collaboration of Don Garber and his colleagues at MLS, which resulted in an efficient transaction that benefits all the parties involved.”
The news of the sale comes days after it was revealed that the club had tried to file trademarks for the names Los Angeles FC and Los Angeles SC. Logos were included with both names.
Chivas USA, which finished in last place in the Western Conference in 2013, begin their final season with a home match on March 9 against the Chicago Fire.
What do you make of this news? More shocked than happy? Wishing this would have happened much sooner? Like the idea of keeping the team in Los Angeles or would you prefer to see it moved elsewhere?
Share your thoughts below.