Los Angeles: Chivas USA, the club that struggled for a decade to gain a foothold in Los Angeles, is folding and will be replaced by an expansion team in 2017, Major League Soccer said on Monday.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement that the disbanding of Chivas — a unanimous decision by the league’s board of governors — was effective immediately and was the first step in a new MLS strategy for Los Angeles.
“As part of our new strategy for Southern California — a major hotbed of soccer participation and fan support — we believe that engaging with a new ownership group which has the resources and local community ties, and a plan for a dedicated soccer-specific stadium, provides us with the best chance for success,” Garber said in a statement.
As a result of the decision, MLS will feature 20 clubs next season after the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City SC.
The 2015 season will feature a new conference alignment, with the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City moving to the Western Conference, while Orlando and New York City will join the East.
MLS has also confirmed that the league will conduct a Dispersal Draft of the Chivas USA squad in the near future.
Chivas USA was launched in 2005 by Jorge Vergara, owner of Mexico’s Chivas de Guadalajara, and Mexico businessman Antonio Cue.
It was hoped the club, which played at the StubHub Centre owned by MLS rivals the LA Galaxy, would tap into Southern California’s Latino market.
Early signs were good, but eventually the club suffered from poor management, competition from the Galaxy and an increasingly inferior on-field performance.
Sports Illustrated reported that MLS is set to announce on Thursday the expansion club that will replace Chivas USA, with Cardiff City’s Malaysian owner Vincent Tan among the investors joining Vietnamese-American businessman Henry Nguyen in launching the project.