Star-Studded Ownership Group Leads New MLS Team, “Los Angeles F.C.”

LAFC

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

Three days after dissolving Chivas USA, Major League Soccer started anew in Los Angeles.

The league held a press conference today to unveil Los Angeles Football Club, which will begin play in 2017.

“We are thrilled to welcome Henry Nguyen, Peter Guber, Tom Penn and their owner partners to Major League Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.  “This visionary ownership group will chart a course that will further elevate the sport in this great city 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.”

Much about LAFC, including the name, remains uncertain, but the people who will own the club are not.  LAFC’s website lists 22 owners in all. Henry Nguyen, Peter Guber, and Tom Penn, all of whom were mentioned in Grant Wahl’s report for SI.com last month, are listed as executive chairman, president, and managing partner, respectively.

Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American businessman, who cited an original NASL game at RFK Stadium as his first ever sporting event. Guber’s background is in Hollywood, and he also owns a part of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Dodgers. Penn is a former NBA GM, who said that he first realized soccer’s potential in the US when he attended a Portland Timbers game.

The other 19 names include Los Angeles Lakers’ legend Magic Johnson, U.S. Women’s star Mia Hamm, her husband Nomar Garciaparra, and the eccentric owner of Cardiff City, Vincent Tan. Many of the names have backgrounds with the Warriors and Dodgers, a sign of Guber’s connections. There is a lot of money and star power behind the club already, which might be a testament to why MLS wanted to keep the team in Los Angeles in the first place.

The LAFC name is not final, but a placeholder until a final name is determined with input from fans. The club’s website and the press conference made heavy use of black and red, which happen to be the exact opposite of the Galaxy’s white and blue. For what it’s worth, Los Angeles FC is an inoffensive name, which means it would be an improvement on what the Chivas USA brand had become.

But the name is ultimately less important than where the club will play, and we didn’t come any closer to discovering that today. The club’s website invites fans to weigh in on the final location, but even if they had a place in mind, it’s unlikely that a soccer-specific stadium could get built in the LA area before the team starts play.


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