Per ESPN, Chivas USA is expected to cease operations after season's end and remain dormant for a minimum of two years before coming back as a totally different club, which is a politically correct way to say they're blowing it all up and starting over. It's the nuclear option for an MLS club that seemed doomed from the beginning.
Perennially last in attendance and outside the playoff picture, Chivas USA could never shake the reputation of the second banana. Starting play in 2004 as an MLS outpost of C.D. Guadalajara, it never found the success nor the fanbase of its Mexican parent club, nor the attention from owner Jorge Vergara. It was a distant second in popularity to the Galaxy in Los Angeles and even in its own arena.
Earlier this year, MLS decided to purchase Chivas USA until a new owner could be found. The sale price was, depending on who reported it, anywhere between $25 million and $70 million, which isn't much for an MLS franchise but isn't bad for one that was viciously hemorrhaging money. "The Chivas USA concept did not work out," Vergara said.
But while MLS looks for a buyer, it's going to put Chivas USA out of its misery. As first reported by Sports Illustrated earlier this month, and given more immediacy by ESPN.com today, the club will be placed on "hiatus."
Chivas USA will suspend operations at the end of the MLS regular season, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation have told ESPNFC.com.
One source added that the league has agreed to sell the club to an undisclosed investment group for a fee in the neighborhood of $100 million, and that going on hiatus is a condition of the sale.
The club is expected to go dark for a minimum of two years until the new ownership group can plan and build a new stadium for the team. MLS has confirmed the land in Exposition Park where the L.A. Sports Arena sits as a potential site for the new venue.
The time period will also allow the club to be rebranded with a new name.
I'm not sure why they're calling this a hiatus instead of what it is—MLS is contracting, with plans to expand again with a new, second team in L.A. That team will have a new name, stadium, owners, sponsors, kits, and presumably will not carry Chivas USA's history. This is not "rebranding." It'll be a completely separate club.
So Chivas USA was a failure, and but that's been acknowledged by just about everyone. (MLS hasn't confirmed any reports, but Don Garber's statement to ESPN doesn't put up much of a fight.) I guess the real news to come out of the "hiatus" story is that MLS is as committed to a second Los Angeles team as it is to any other market.