Chivas USA became Major League Soccer’s 11th franchise in 2004, attempting to spread the popularity of the Chivas Guadalajara brand from Mexico to Southern California.
The idea worked for a while, but recent seasons became difficult on the field and in the stands. Finally in February, the league bought the franchise from owner Jorge Vergara with the purposes of finding a new owner who would rebrand the franchise in a new home near to downtown Los Angeles.
That new owner hasn’t yet been announced, raising the possibility that the franchise could go dark in 2015, leaving MLS with 20 teams including expansion newcomers Orlando City and New York City FC.
However, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid believes that should give the individual Goats something to play for: the preservation of their careers.
"Obviously they came in with a big drumroll when they came into the league," Schmid said. "Everybody thought it was going to be a really, really good idea. And then they had a good run, a good period of time there, with Preki primarily as their coach when they got into the playoffs on a pretty consistent basis. And they were a difficult team to play against. And even now, even where they are this season I know people look at their record and all those things, but those teams are difficult as well, because they’re playing for their jobs. They’re auditioning. Is the team going to go on hiatus next year. These guys are trying to impress other coaches around the league because if they do go on hiatus, where do those players go? How will they get dispersed? There’s still a lot of motivating factors for every player on their team as they step on the field. Maybe their cohesion as a team hasn’t been all that they want it to be, but in terms of players and individuals being motivated, there’s a lot of things that should motivate them."
Schmid, who previously coached the LA Galaxy, believes Los Angeles can support two teams under the right circumstances:
"It can," he said. "I don’t know if it can support two teams in (StubHub Center). I think you’ve got to have a little bit of its own identity. What’s happening in New York, where what they’re trying to do with New York FC and what they’ve got with Red Bull. LA probably needs the same sort of thing. They need their own stadium, their own identity, their own brand, so to speak. Not, oh this week our bench is on this side because we’re playing at home, and next week we’re on the other side because we’re the away team to the Galaxy. It’ll give the Galaxy less home games, too."