Move over NBA trade deadline. MLS provided some real news and broke Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
The league announced that they have bought Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. The news sent the MLS Twitterverse into overdrive and had many saying “it is about time.” I totally agree with that comment. It was obvious that Chivas USA was not a successful club from many standpoints and became the laughingstock of MLS.
As MLS commissioner Don Garber pointed out in Thursday’s teleconference with national media, it was not an concept issue, but an execution issue. In both the press release and conference call, Garber was clear that Chivas USA’s struggles and flaws were not the faults of owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes.
When Chivas USA joined the league as the first expansion phase with Real Salt Lake, their rivalry with the Los Angeles Galaxy was thriving. As fellow Rant Sports writer Matthew Evans points out, Chivas was averaging “15,725 fans per game during the 2009 season, and that number dropped to 8,366 fans per game in 2013, a decrease of 46.8 percent.”
With new ownership and a rebrand, the Chivas USA franchise should at least in drawing fans. Similar to the Kansas City Wizards’ rebrand to Sporting Kansas City, Chivas’ records will carry over, and Sporting Kansas City now draws near sellout crowds for every match.
The rebranding process will not start right away though. Chivas USA will keep the name until a new ownership group purchases the team from the league. Garber was optimistic on the phone that this process could take place before 2014 ends. This is good news for everyone out there. It would be pointless for the league to rebrand the team just for new ownership to not like it. While it is unclear what Chivas USA’s name will become, Garber was adamant that this franchise will be staying in the L.A. area and the area can support two MLS teams.
With the franchise’s future in Los Angeles, new stadium plans will have to be discussed. Garber alluded that their are many options to consider, but new ownership will have to be present for those talks to progress. Looking ahead, good things are ahead for Chivas USA, and that is good for the league. Thursday’s purchase by the league allows for a more natural transition to occur and the potential for a successful rebranding.
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