CARSON, Calif. -- On the date that MLS officially disbanded Chivas USA, the LA Galaxy went along with business as usual.
There was no talk of the fact the Rojiblancos had been officially disbanded earlier that morning or that they will be replaced by a new team at a new location in the greater Los Angeles area in two years’ time. The Galaxy simply went about the task of preparing for their Western Conference Semifinal first leg with Real Salt Lake – who entered the league in 2005 alongside Chivas – on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“The decision to sell Chivas and rebrand it and bring it back in the marketplace can only be a positive,” said Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said of the Chivas USA news. “I’m sure that it will make for an exciting time in the Los Angeles soccer market.”
While the yet unnamed second Los Angeles MLS team will return in 2017, most players who suited up for Chivas USA will be distributed across MLS in a dispersal draft that will take place in December. The only possible exceptions for the draft may be forwards Erick “Cubo” Torres and Felix Borja who may find new teams through other means according to a league conference call on Monday afternoon.
As the players prepare for the dispersal draft, Galaxy right back and longtime leadership member of the MLS Players Union James Riley said that he trusted the league and the union to assure a seamless transition for those affected.
“It’s unfortunate news and I want to thank the fans for supporting the team and I still have a lot of good friends on that team,” said Riley who admitted that he wasn’t surprised by the announcement. “We just hope that the process goes smoothly and the players are taken care of and given options to play elsewhere. Obviously, the players union and the league will do their due diligence in making sure that the process goes smoothly for those players.”
But although the sentimentality of losing the Rojiblancos as a rival was felt, the Galaxy were focused on the ways that Monday’s announcement will affect them in the immediate future. With Chivas USA exiting the league, MLS revealed the realignment of the new 20-team league that will feature Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo moving west while expansion sides Orlando City SC and New York City FC join the Eastern Conference.
"As if the Western Conference wasn't tough enough already," chuckled defender A.J. DeLaGarza upon learning that the last five MLS Cup winners will be in the new Western Conference.
But even amid the loss of a rival and the introduction to a pair of new teams in the Western Conference, DeLaGarza said that the loss of the Rojiblancos will only help the Galaxy truly make the StubHub Center their true home.
"It'll be weird not playing Chivas USA because we looked forward to that rivalry. But now we get to have our own stadium and we can do things for us with our $15 million dollar investment in the stadium. We’ll have a chance to upgrade the facilities for the entire club.”