It seems the future of Chivas USA, or maybe the replacement for Chivas USA in Los Angeles, may be approaching, and we may find out in a matter of days what will be happening. In the meantime, we have questions. Quite a few, in fact. For now, let's think big picture in wondering what the future will bring:
- What exactly will be happening, and how will it be termed? On one hand, the semantics may run counter to what actually happens in this situation. Will Chivas USA be folded, and LA2 become an expansion team, either explicitly or implicitly? There has been discussion that the league may opt to call it a hiatus (or something of the like) and say there's continuity between CUSA and the new team, without that actually being the case. Grant Wahl has suggested that could be for legal reasons, and it could also be for the optics of the situation, though the realities may offer an absolute break from CUSA. This is obviously the most important part, since it's setting the scene for what will be happening for the next several years.
- What will happen to current Chivas USA players/staff/academy? Current indications, before anything is officially announced, is that the Chivas USA players who will be under contract next season will be scattered to the winds of the rest of MLS, and those not under contract will most likely be scattered to the broader winds. That, of course, means the new team will have no connection to the current club, and save a few players, that may be for the best. Still, it's going to be difficult for Chivas fans to see, say, Dan Kennedy, or maybe even Erick Torres, as well as Homegrown players Marky Delgado and Caleb Calvert going to other teams. As for the staff of the club, at various levels, are they all out of a job? And will the current CUSA Academy, something that has actually done a good job despite hemorrhaging good, talented players to the LA Galaxy and international clubs, lose all momentum and shut up shop?
- Will LA2 be officially akin to David Beckham's Miami franchise, or like New York City FC and Orlando City SC? This one may seem like a technicality, but it could provide a glimpse as to the viability of the new set-up and how MLS are treating it from the get-go. In the case of NYCFC and Orlando City, as well as Atlanta, their entrances to MLS were official when announced. The first two are entering next season, while Atlanta will begin play in 2017. In the case of Miami, however, there is no start date for the club, because they don't have a stadium site secured. That means that while Beckham has exercised his expansion team option, it's not altogether official yet. Will the same be the case for LA2 while they seek a stadium site?
- What will the public profile of the new team be while they aren't playing? You can't substitute for a team that's actually playing week in and week out, as forlorn CUSA fans might tell you, but what exactly will the public profile of the new owners be in relation to the team? Will a new identity and brand for the team be revealed immediately? Any mission statements from day one? Efforts to market a team that won't play for an unknown amount of time?
- Will the new owners attempt to woo Chivas USA fans? Luis Bueno wrote a great article on U.S. Soccer Players on Wednesday on how MLS have not done much to really improve the lot of Chivas USA fans, and the future may not be much different. Clearly, there are mixed opinions and a proportion of once- or current-Chivas USA fans will be completely turned off and will never return to following LA2. But will the new owners simply shrug and say, "Who needs them anyway?" or will they try to build a group of supporters at the ground floor that have been through hell over the years? I'm sure they won't close their doors to CUSA fans, but will they be active in trying to woo them, listening to their opinions as fans?
What do you think? Leave a comment below!