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Why LAFC caught my eye and why I’m here

LAFC: The most interesting expansion project in MLS.

Jake Schwartz

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I have grown up in the backyard of one of MLS’ most historic, successful clubs. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and attended the University of Maryland, very close to the residence of four-time MLS champion D.C. United. I’m not from Los Angeles, nor have I had the chance to visit the City of Angels. But one thing has become more and more apparent to me as I have watched the development of LAFC: the new kids on the block in Southern California are setting a new standard for MLS expansion and have the most intriguing project in the country.

I have always been fascinated with Expansion franchises. The duo of NYCFC and Orlando City caught my eye in 2015, especially since one of my all-time favorite players (as a Milanista), Kaká, was the centerpiece for the Lions. The duo this season of Minnesota United FC, coming from the NASL, and Atlanta United starting from scratch under Arthur Blank, was also interesting to me, given the existing soccer culture in both areas (between the NASL Minnesota United and the Atlanta Silverbacks) and what they each add to the league. Add in the hot start Atlanta had, at one point topping the table in the East, while Minnesota had a dismal start and has since found some stability, and I am convinced expansion is one of the most interesting and engaging parts of sports.

Then, there is LAFC.

Los Angeles Football Club wants to be a new breed of MLS Expansion. Every franchise has come into the league with the goals of making the playoffs and, in some shape or form, contending for the title. Orlando City had those goals, NYCFC did, and Atlanta United does this year. LAFC not only wants to compete, but they want to do it in style.

The logo is beautiful. Banc of California Stadium looks like it will be incredible (and will reportedly have a pool deck, too) and will be just the third to have “safe standing“ in the North End supporters’ section. I’m willing to bet the uniforms will be crisp. LAFC has been linked to Carlos Vela, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Chicharito Hernandez. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was reported to be an option for manager. The training facility that was just announced looks to be state of the art.

On top of that, the club has already taken its shot to rival the LA Galaxy, one of the blue-blood MLS franchises, who have taken exactly the wrong year in their history to not have a good season. Galaxy fans have apparently shot back, confirming at least a sort of brewing rivalry in LA, even if some Galaxy supporters say they don’t care (I don’t buy it).

In short, I’m fascinated by LAFC. Big things are going on in LA, and even bigger things are coming, and I want to be a part of it. That is why I am here: I want to see what LAFC put together. LAFC has not played a single game yet (Orange County does not count), but their identity is already very much established as a presence in MLS. There is a great column from Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated that talks about LAFC being out to set the “MLS 3.0 Standard.“ H’s right. LAFC might start playing next season, but they’ve already arrived. The project already appears to have a bright future, and I, for one, am excited for it all the way from the East Coast.

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