Chivas USA is no more.
MLS confirmed Monday what had been the league’s worst-kept secret for months now: That the Goats will cease operations immediately, with the new ownership of a new Los Angeles franchise — one that will begin play in 2017 — to be announced Thursday.
The league also announced the new 10-team conference alignments, seen here courtesy of MLSSoccer.com:
Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo are moving to the Western Conference to make room for expansion teams Orlando City and New York City FC. As Sounders historian Frank MacDonald noted Monday on Twitter, the shift means that seven of the eight top attendance draws now reside in the West.
New MLS West now features 7 of top 8 attendance draws (SEA, LA, POR, VAN, RSL, HOU, SKC) & 7 of top 10 goal scorers (Torres TBD).
— Frank MacDonald (@frankmSounders) October 27, 2014
It also means that no team in the new East has made the MLS Cup final since 2008, when Columbus defeated New York — in 2009 and 2010, the league featured cross-over play-in games, while either Kansas City or Houston represented the Eastern Conference in the last three championship games.
“It just makes the West a little merrier,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
“I’m surprised they didn’t have New England and D.C. come over so could have all the points over here.”
The clubs will face each team in their own conference twice and each team in the other conference once, with six additional intra-conference matches making up the difference to maintain the 34-game slate.
– Credit Chivas, though, for making the most out of a bad situation. The Goats closed out their 10-year MLS tenure with a 1-0 home victory over San Jose on Sunday afternoon, Chivas’ third win in its final four matches.
– Portland also had to settle for a moral victory on Saturday, falling one point short of the Western Conference playoffs despite losing just one of its final 10 matches. The Timbers topped F.C. Dallas 2-0 in Frisco but could only watch in vain as a 70th-minute header from Kendall Watson gave Vancouver the three points it needed against Colorado to clinch the final postseason berth in the West.
– In the East, Columbus completed its late-season surge with a 2-1, stoppage-time victory over Philadelphia — a result that, combined with Kansas City‘s 2-0 home loss to New York, lifted the Crew out of the fourth-/fifth-place play-in game.
The Red Bulls will host Sporting on Thursday night to narrow the Eastern Conference playoff field to four. The Sounders, meanwhile, will await the winner of Wednesday’s Dallas/Vancouver match, with the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal to be played Sunday night.
The full MLS Cup playoff schedule can be found here, but before we turn our attention fully to the postseason, here’s one last look at the final regular-reason table courtesy of MLS: