Garber says Chivas USA might not play in 2015; MLS fines Arena $20,000 for critical comments

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Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber launch the league's new logo during a press conference Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


NEW YORK — Chivas USA might not play in 2015 and perhaps longer, a decision that won't be made until a new owner takes over the Major League Soccer team.

"We expect to be able to close an agreement by the end of the season," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Thursday after a news conference to launch the league's new logo. "Once we get an ownership group in place, we'll sit down with them and make a decision as to whether or not we're going to keep that team operating in 2015 and beyond."

The league hopes to have a schedule by late fall. With the addition of New York City and Orlando, MLS will have 20 or 21 teams next year, depending on whether Chivas USA plays.

Chivas USA was formed in 2004, and MLS announced in February it had assumed operation of the team from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, who have controlled the Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara since 2002.

Former Chivas USA youth coaches, Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos filed a discrimination lawsuit against the team in 2013, a case that was resolved without a trial.

Chivas USA is last in the Western Conference at 6-16-6 and is averaging 6,942 for home games this season, less than half the figure of the team with the second-lowest average. Chivas USA shares the StubHub Center with the Los Angeles Galaxy in Carson, California, and Garber has said the new ownership group must intend to build a new stadium, perhaps at the site of the L.A. Sports Arena.

Garber also said the league had fined Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena $20,000 for criticizing MLS over the uncompleted deal to acquire American midfielder Sacha Kljestan from the Belgian club Anderlecht.

During an Aug. 25 interview with The Washington Post, Arena was quoted as saying: "We had all of our ducks in a row. We were positioned to sign a player. I won't go into detail, and just say forces within the league worked real hard to make sure that didn't happen. ... because they are children and there have to be adults in the process, and we didn't have enough of them. I think we are back into the old days in the league when the rules are somewhat arbitrary."

Garber said "it was a deal that did not come to the league for approval, and had it we would have not approved it." He differentiated Kljestan from goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who spent the early part of this season on loan to Toronto from Queens Park Rangers, by saying "we had certain rights in the Julio Cesar deal that we didn't have in this deal."

"All of our employees, whether they are league executives or they are club executives, even going so far as to including our owners, are bound by an agreement that we will not criticize the system that our ownership is fully committed to," Garber said. "It pains me to have to fine him for making comments that he obviously feels strongly about but which he is required by league rules to keep to himself."

Galaxy spokesman Brendan Hannan said the team declined comment.

Garber also said the league is reviewing criticism by Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley of Canadian referee David Gantar who called a foul and disallowed what would have been a go-ahead goal in the 90th minute by Gilberto in a 1-1 tie against Chicago last weekend.

"That referee did not get it right in that game, and we shouldn't be ashamed of saying that," Garber said. "I feel for Toronto FC."

The league's new logo, replacing the ball-and-cleat image in use since MLS started play in 1996, has a shield with a slash that extends on the lower side in a tail and three stars representing club, country and community. It will be used starting next season in various colors to match different teams.

"If you look around at all the league logos around the world, they all have a ball in it. The shield represents an identity that we think is very soccer- or football-oriented," Garber said. "We don't believe that we need to take elements of the game to tell the world or our fans that we're a soccer league."

The logo is part of an "MLS Next" rebrand that was announced at a venue in New York's Meatpacking District, an area where Garber said "many of the millennials and those that are supporters of our league live and hang out. The new logo represents our commitment to what's next."

On other topics, Garber said:

—He is back at work following prostate cancer surgery that was successful.

—MLS hopes to volunteer for video review experiments FIFA may authorize "so that we can ensure that games are not determined by calls that in retrospect can be looked at as being wrong." However, goal line technology such as the systems used by the Premier League and FIFA "is incredibly expensive, and for the amount of times that that's an issue throughout the year, we don't believe that it's an expense that should be a priority for us."

—David Beckham's group continues to seek a site for a downtown stadium in Miami and is not considering the suburbs: "Right now we're really focused on having a downtown stadium. We've seen how that has worked for us in so many other markets."

—New York City FC, which starts play next year at Yankee Stadium, continues "to work with the City of New York to try to find a permanent stadium solution."

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