Skip to main content

Football: 'Magic' behind MLS' new Los Angeles franchise

updated 9:27 PM EDT, Sat November 1, 2014
Los Angeles Football Club co-owners Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm and Tony Robbins at the club's launch.
Los Angeles Football Club co-owners Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm and Tony Robbins at the club's launch.
  • Los Angeles Football Club will join MLS in 2017
  • City's second team boasts Magic Johnson and Mia Hamm among its co-owners
  • MLS hopes club will form an intense rivalry with LA Galaxy
  • Club's creation can help MLS 'become one of world's top leagues'

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Derbies often provide the highlight of any football season -- whether that be Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, AC Milan vs. Inter or Arsenal vs. Spurs -- and Major League Soccer (MLS) is now hoping that Los Angeles can join that illustrious list.

For the hope for the city's new franchise, whose working title is simply Los Angeles Football Club, is that it can have an intense rivalry with four-time champions LA Galaxy.

The first derby is scheduled to take place in 2017, when the club is set to enter the league.

And it should be a high profile event if any of the illustrious co-owners, NBA legend Magic Johnson, U.S. football great Mia Hamm and her husband, Major League Baseball star, Nomar Garciaparra, attend.

Read: Lampard - 'MLS is my next big challenge'

"We feel strongly that this city cannot only support but will really thrive with two teams -- rivals on and off the field," said Don Garber, the MLS' long-standing commissioner.

Garber's enthusiasm for the new franchise -- which also numbers motivational speaker Tony Robbins and controversial Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan among its diverse 22-person ownership group -- is seemingly limitless.

The future of soccer in the U.S.
Lampard: Leaving Chelsea now feels right
Lampard determined to make mark on MLS

"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 leagues in the world," he added.

Yet the MLS is well aware of the need for caution given that Los Angeles FC's creation comes just three days after the city's former second club, Chivas, ceased operations following 10 years of existence.

Set up in 2005 by Jorge Vergara, the owner of Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara, and Mexico City businessman Antonio Cue, the American Chivas failed in its aim of tapping into the interest of LA's sizeable Hispanic community.

The fact that the club ground-shared with Galaxy may have hindered its ability to establish its own identity, which might explain why a new stadium for Los Angeles FC is a leading priority.

"We believe this team can become one of the most outstanding clubs in the MLS and a globally-recognized brand," said the ownership group's leader, Henry Nguyen, in a statement.

"Today is day one and time for us to focus on developing a world-class stadium for the club to play in and for fans to enjoy."

South Africa mourns slain football star
Kicking out prejudice

MLS Commissioner Garber wholeheartedly agrees.

"There are four key elements to success in MLS soccer," he said.

"You need a community that loves the game, owners that are passionate about the league, and you need to have them be local - it's important for them to come from the community yet support that effort with resources from international investors, which is very much the case here.

"Lastly, we need to have a plan for a stadium, whether that is a large stadium downtown or a soccer stadium that we start from scratch."

"We have all of those elements here."

In addition to uncertainty about the team's official name, prospective fans must also wait for confirmation of who will form the front office, coaching and administrative staff.

What is known is that Peter Guber, who owns NGA's Golden State Warriors and co-owns Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers, will serve as executive chairman.

Los Angeles FC's presence will make the MLS a 22-team league in 2017 with New York City FC, which is co-owned by English Premier League side Manchester City and baseball side New York Yankees, and Orlando City joining next season.

Starting with ten teams in 1996, the MLS will thus double in size to 20 teams as it enter its 20th year.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.