LOS ANGELES (AP) – Chivas USA ceased operations on Monday after 10 troubled and unsuccessful years in Major League Soccer, with the league planning a new franchise for Los Angeles that will begin play in 2017 with new ownership and a new soccer-specific stadium.
The league's Board of Governors unanimously decided to shut down Chivas USA after reviewing a new plan for the Los Angeles market. As a result, the league will have 20 teams in the 2015 season, including new franchises in Orlando and New York City.
Commissioner Don Garber said MLS will conduct a dispersal draft of the Chivas USA roster before Dec. 1.
The league will re-align its conferences next year, sending Houston and Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference to create two 10-team conferences. Each team will play 34 regular-season games, with clubs playing a home-and-away series against each team in the opposing conference. Clubs will play each of their nine conference opponents at least twice, plus six more intra-conference games.
Chivas USA finished seventh in the nine-team Western Conference with a 9-19-6 record. The team averaged less than 7,000 for home games this season at StubHub Center in Carson, which it shared with the more successful Los Angeles Galaxy.
Chivas USA was formed in 2004, and MLS announced in February that it had assumed operation of the team from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, who have controlled the Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara since 2002 and had a 50 percent interest in Chivas USA.
The pair took operating control of Chivas USA in August 2012 when they bought out former partners Antonio and Lorenzo Cue, who had been running the team.
The team was targeted at Los Angeles' large Hispanic population.
"We found out very quickly that strategy wasn't effective," Garber said on a conference call.
He thanked Chivas USA's past and present ownership, saying they were "really committed to our league." He also thanked the club's players and fans for sticking with the franchise despite its losing record.
Garber said the Chivas USA academy in Bell Gardens will close next June, and the new franchise will launch its own youth academy.
Former Chivas USA youth coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos filed a discrimination lawsuit against the team in 2013, a case that was resolved without a trial.
Details about the new Los Angeles franchise will be announced Thursday. Garber said one of the stadium sites under consideration is on the University of Southern California campus south of downtown. However, he added that it's possible the new stadium won't be located downtown.
"There was enormous interest in purchasing rights to our new team in Los Angeles," he said.
Garber described the new ownership as "really committed and passionate," and he said many of the owners will reside in Los Angeles.
The commissioner said the region deserves another chance at having two MLS teams because of its size, and the large number of soccer fans and interested sponsors.
"Having two teams in Los Angeles doesn't mean that we might not through expansion have teams in many markets," he said.