By CAITLIN MURRAY
Little more than a month after Major League Soccer officials stated Chivas USA could stick around for another season with the same name if a new owner isn’t found, a new report suggests the team could close up shop if a new owner decides to start fresh with a new identity.
MLS has found a potential buyer for the beleaguered Chivas USA franchise, but the league is preparing for the franchise to miss 2015, according to a report Friday from Sports Illustrated.
In other words, when the 19-team MLS adds New York City FC and Orlando City next year, the league could field 20 teams.
Citing unnamed sources, Sports Illustrated reports a frontrunner to buy Chivas USA has emerged, one willing to pay more than the $100 million paid by New York City FC ownership to take over MLS’ second Los Angeles franchise in a sale that could be approved as early as Oct. 6.
The report goes on to speculate that, as part of the sale, a new owner would keep the team in Los Angeles, but could choose to shut down Chivas USA for a season or two before a relaunch under a new name.
Chivas USA has been an embarrassment for MLS in recent years, playing in a near-empty StubHub Center for home games while taking up regular residence at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The franchise has been up for sale since February when MLS opted to buy Chivas USA for a reported $70 million. MLS has vowed to keep the team in Los Angeles to serve as rival to the Los Angeles Galaxy, even as groups from cities around the country vie for entrance into the league.
With 19 teams in the league this year, MLS will see New York City FC and Orlando City SC debut in 2015. Atlanta will join in 2017 and a Miami franchise is expected pending a stadium deal. That sequence, along with a re-branded second team in Los Angeles, MLS could be at 23 teams, with cities such as San Antonio; Sacramento, Minneapolis and Las Vegas identified as potential candidates for a 24th team.
The report added that Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo will move to the Western Conference in 2015. The Dynamo had long been expected to make the move, but Sporting KC had not previously been linked to a move to the West.
What do you think of this report? Think it makes sense to shut down Chivas USA for a season or two before a relaunch and new name for the second Los Angeles team in MLS? Disappointed at the possibility of having your team miss out on easy points?
Share your thoughts below.