It’s official! Chicos y chicas, say hello to Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), the new team in Major League Soccer. LAFC is set to debut in 2017 replacing the recently defunct Chivas USA as L.A.’s second soccer team.
In typical MLS fashion, Commissioner Don Garber unveiled the team today during a press conference after weeks of vague statements concerning the current situation with Chivas USA and its replacement, unofficially known as LA2. Not only was a name already in place, so was the team’s website and social media accounts, which were launched with the announcement.
Garber also introduced the investment group and a slew of co-owners of the team. The list reads as a who’s-who of money and influence: Tom Penn (ESPN analyst), Vincent Tan (Cardiff City), Peter Guber (Mandalay Ent.), Ruben Gnanalingam (Queens Park Rangers), and Henry Nguyen (IDG Ventures Vietnam).
“As Peter is wont to say,” said Nguyen at the presser, “this is the beginning of the beginning of the beginning.”
Other members of the group include Earvin “Magic” Johnson (who needs no intro), US Women’s soccer great Mia Hamm, former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra, Dick Clark Productions CEO Allen Shapiro, and various board members from the LA Dodgers, the Golden State Warriors and AS Roma.
“This visionary ownership group will chart a course that will further elevate the sport in this great city,” proclaimed Garber, “and, combined with a new state-of-the-art stadium, accelerate us down the path toward becoming one of the top soccer leagues in the world.”
The news comes as a relief to fans of Chivas USA such as Jose Salcedo, a member of supporter group The Union Ultras and dedicated life-long follower who attended the press conference.
“It’s been a roller coaster this past week of losing a team and having a new team in a week,” he said via phone, “and there’s a lot of bullshit going on but we always wished for the best and I think this was the best thing that could’ve happened.”
LAFC will provide him and his peers a second chance to help build something from the start. Salcedo and other members of the Ultras expect to meet with folks from LAFC in November for discussions on assisting in moving the team forward and building its fan base.
“It looks like the ownership understands that without the fans they’re worth nothing,” he added noting that he and other Ultras don’t want MLS and LAFC to repeat the mistakes made by Chivas USA. They hope their experience with the latter can help with the launch of LAFC. At the very least, they know they won’t struggle from a lack of investment.
“I see a bright future ahead of us,” added Salcedo. “The Union Ultras are going to wear the new colors and raise the new crest and we’re going to support this team because this is our team.”