This afternoon Major League Soccer’s worst kept secret came to fruition when the league announced that Chivas USA has ceased operations after ten years of play.
The team and front office have been disbanded and the players will be dispersed via a Dispersal Draft which will be held in early December according to various sources. MLS teams will pick from their roster in reverse order of finish from their 2014 MLS season. That would put D.C. United third from the bottom and in all likelihood United will pass on their opportunity to pick a player from one of the worst rosters in MLS.
Commissioner Don Garber announced that a second Los Angeles franchise will be announced this Thursday and begin league play in 2017. A group of investors led by Vietnamese-American businessman Henry Ngyuen will take charge of the yet-to-be-named team while Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, will spearhead the Atlanta franchise also set to begin in 2017.
Additionally, the league announced also that because of the 2015 additions of expansion franchises NYCFC and Orlando City SC, that the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will be moved to the Western Conference beginning next season. This will balance out both conferences at ten teams apiece. With MLS now set at 20 teams, the schedule will remain at 34 league games.
Each team will play every opponent in the opposite conference once (5 at home; 5 away – 10 games total) and will play home-and-home against each conference team (18 games total) and an additional 6 games against a conference opponent (3 home; 3 away). Those additional games have yet to be decided but most likely will attempt to keep league rivalries in play (Atlantic Cup/Cascadia Cup/Rocky Mountain Cup/California Clasico/Texas Derby, etc…) and will rotate from year-to-year.
What this means for D.C. United is that things have gotten a lot less complicated as they have traded two conference rivals for two expansion teams. While it may appear an easier path to the playoffs with Houston and SKC out of the picture, it would be a tragic mistake for United,their staff and their fans to assume it will be a cakewalk from this point forward.
2013 should have told us all we need to know about that.