The Chivas Solution

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photo credit: brent flanders via photopin cc

Chivas USA enter tonight’s game with a guillotine hanging above its head. It’s been known for a while that the name will be gone by 2015, when Major League Soccer offloads the club to new ownership. But a report tonight has the league taking even more drastic measures. According to Brian Strauss of Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles club may not play in 2015, as new owners figure out the all-important rebrand.

It does not look good for the league to have a team go on “hiatus.” That’s the sort of thing a minor league club does before folding for good. But, if the league is committed to succeeding with a second club in LA (and with an ownership group willing to pay $100 million, it seems that they are), this route has several benefits:  Continue reading

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Pressing Concerns in Kansas City

When Sporting Kansas City won the MLS Cup last year, it culminated a franchise turnaround that began in earnest three years earlier. After the 2010 season, the Wizards exchanged their name and minor-league ballpark for a brand and stadium that more befitted modern MLS. They began to sell out Sporting Park (regularly, for the first time in franchise history), and on the field they leapt to the top of the Eastern conference. Last year’s title, celebrated in their fancy new stadium put a neat bow on the revival story.

More practically, though, a name and a stadium can’t win trophies. The MLS Cup was lifted on the shoulders of the league’s best defense. In 2013, as in 2012, Sporting allowed the fewest goals in MLS. The center back partnership of Aurelien Collin and Kansas-bred Matt Besler deserve credit for that, but defense starts at the top in KC. Former Wizards player Peter Vermes has instituted a high-pressure system that seeks to snuff out attacks long before they get to the back line. They starve teams of possession and force their opponents to make mistakes. It’s a very attacking way to play defense.

But perhaps cracks are starting to appear. SKC enters tonight’s game against Chivas USA riding a four-game losing streak, their longest since before Sporting Park opened. They’ve allowed 11 goals in that span, almost a third of their season’s total. What’s going wrong in Kansas City?

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