Monday, February 24, 2014

Full 90: MLS Pulls Plug on Chivas USA


Recently it was announced by Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber that the league had purchased Chivas USA from owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. Vergara, an owner of the MLS franchise since it’s inaugural season in 2004, and Fuentes joining the ownership team in 2012, can now lay to rest the the running-joke of the MLS. Chivas USA, based in Cason, California, will now maintain ownership by MLS until the league can select an appropriate replacement. Effective immediately, the league will assume all club operations.


Garber has displayed his resilience in bettering the MLS from top to bottom. At the moment there is great optimism surrounding Major League Soccer through this month’s announcement of Beckham’s Miami franchise, the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City, and now, with the rebranding of Chivas USA. Additionally, the transfer of English-sensation, Jermaine Defoe and countryman-Michael Bradley to Toronto FC, will surely add to excitement of the league next season. 


Part of the reason the MLS pounced at the opportunity to gain control of this failing experiment is to ensure the club remains located in Los Angeles. At the moment, the league is working to find an owner who will bring forth a new vision and outlook for the depressed club as well as someone who is committed to building a new stadium in Los Angeles.  

Currently, the team plays in Carson at the StubHub Center where the team will continue to play its home matches for the 2014 season. The MLS is directing its potential owners that this is an opportunity to rebrand the entire look of the franchise, starting with a new team name and logo. Some have hinted at the suggestion of Los Angeles SC or Los Angeles F.C. as potential new club names. Mr. Garber has revealed that they already have begun the process of interviewing potential candidates to takeover the club.

Was this the appropriate action by the MLS?

Undoubtedly. The purchase of Chivas is the MLS’s direct efforts to stop the bleeding of perhaps its most dismal franchise. Chivas has endured constant turmoil in its front offices, on the pitch, in the stands, and in the court of law. This provided the league with an opportunity to bandage the wounds. From the start, Chivas USA stunted its opportunity for success through its perhaps-too-firm connection to Jorge Vergara’s Mexican club, Chivas de Guadalajara. Because of its rigid attachment to the Chivas brand, Vergara’s MLS club alienates a large portion of potential Latino fans in Southern California.

Bottom-line:

With no local broadcasting deal, no winning record since 2009, no playoff appearances, no ownership of a stadium, and lowest league attendance- it was time for Major League Soccer to step in. Karma is good in the MLS right now. This is Chivas USA chance to reposition itself within the MLS, within the public image.

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Matt Puzio is a pre-junior in Drexel’s Sport Management program. From West Windsor, NJ, Matt is an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Matt has assisted Drexel professor, Dr. Ellen Staurowsky, in her Title IX research which resulted in a publication and a chance to speak at the 2013 NCAA Scholarly Colloquium. Matt has completed his first Co-op with Trenton Thunder.  Follow Matt on Twitter @mattypuz.

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