As the Major League Soccer’s 19th regular season comes to a close, a group of soccer fans mourn, as their favorite club Chivas USA announced they would go on hiatus for at least two years amid the team’s sale.
The club’s struggles date back before they even started. The Galaxy have always been the dominant Los Angeles team, and always will be. The mid-2000s cemented their spot with players like David Beckham and Landon Donovan. If you don’t believe me, in 2013 the Galaxy reported an average attendance of 22,000 per game. Chivas USA averaged just 8,400. Whilst having early success, the club has not made the playoffs since 2009 and have consistently finished at the bottom of the Western Conference. Poor performance is not necessarily the issue here. The Chicago Cubs maintain a loyal fanbase despite their poor performance in recent years. It’s how the team was introduced to the market. Chivas, affiliated with Mexican club C.D. Guadalajara, mainly grasped Los Angeles’ Hispanic fans. They had a difficult time reaching the entire city. Most fans felt they could not connect with a club called “Chivas USA”.
This brings up a major problem. Chivas USA should not have existed in the first place. Unlike baseball where it’s okay for Los Angeles to have two teams, soccer is not the same. American soccer is still not seen as a major sport. It is only now coming into the limelight. If you’re talking about the growth of the game, Los Angeles should have one team. One team the entire city can get behind, unifying an entire fanbase. It would create something the city doesn’t have for sports. You’re either Angels or Dodgers, Clippers or Lakers, Ducks or Kings. Maybe L.A. could have had that with soccer. When you have a finite amount of fans, you can’t divide them up. Again, we see this happening in New York City. Two MLS teams in the same city is not good for the game of soccer.
Entering the twentieth season for the MLS, two new teams will enter the league. The former USL Pro team Orlando City and a new expansion team New York City FC, which will share a market with the New York Red Bulls. Both of those teams will certainly be placed in the Eastern Conference, meaning one team will have to be realigned to the West, most likely the Houston Dynamo or Sporting Kansas City.
However, Chivas USA potential new owners are not giving up on a second Los Angeles club. They plan to re-brand the team and secure a new stadium (the club currently plays at the StubHub Center, which they share with the Galaxy), perhaps letting the club live on in spirit. Unfortunately, the club’s fans will be without a club for at least two years. They will have to support the Galaxy or worse, stop following the sport altogether. If in 2004, Major League Soccer’s eleventh team started somewhere else, this whole thing could’ve been avoided. Regardless, we wish Chivas USA supporters the best and hope you still find interest in the beautiful game.