Allow me to get esoteric for a moment: We’re in the final weeks of peak theoretical LAFC.
What does that mean? Well, with just two players officially signed to 2018 MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club before the first season, both of whom should be, at best, depth options on the roster, LAFC still doesn’t exist as a soccer team.
No coach, no full roster complete with players everybody has heard of (or not), no games played. It’s all theoretical at this point.
And this puts the team in something of a bind, but not really one they can do much about right now. Nascent fans of LAFC have built the team in their minds with all of their hopes and dreams — that is the fun of building a brand new club from scratch, after all.
But the chatter around the big transfer rumors and coaching possibilities have exposed the coming end of this rainbow-filled utopia. For every single name linked to the team, there’s two broad reactions.
[Player X is linked to LAFC]: “Oh my god, this would be a fantastic signing!” / “God, this would be the absolute worst signing ever.”
Surely we’re all familiar with the snap judgments of social media, and frankly there are going to be people with flat-out wrong opinions mixed in. Also, in every single fanbase, there exists a spectrum, with one pole consisting of people who believe in everything the team does, no matter the circumstances or track record, and the other end being filled by people so negative about their team at every instance that you wonder why they are even fans at all.
Most of us are in the middle, and when LAFC hires their head coach and starts to fill the roster, presumably with a big Designated Player signing or two in the weeks to come, many of the fans who had built up a team in their mind (“Find the young exciting players like Atlanta United did” “I watch the English Premier League and my entire frame of reference is pointed on that” “If Messi doesn’t join this team it will be a disaster” “I only want to root for a team that has Californians on it, but also please win all your games”) will be disappointed.
A few of them will be turned off by LAFC’s approach, no matter what it is, no matter if they start their debut campaign in fine fashion or struggle like most expansion teams. Others will wait to see if LAFC storms the league — lavish praise on the team for their off-field efforts to date has unquestionably raised expectations, locally and around North America, and failure to win consistently will be a bitter pill for some.
But if you haven’t given it much thought, even if you are a reasonable supporter, consider this: LAFC will absolutely sign a player that you will not like. Whether it’s a DP or an MLS veteran from the expansion draft, you will be disappointed at some point. The key is to hopefully limit the number of actually disappointing players, and hopefully as many players find success as possible, but you will, guaranteed, hear about a signing and respond, “Ugh, him?!”
It’s the nature of being in a global market and being in MLS. There will be stars, those who deserve that mantle more than others, and there will be underrated players, and there will be players you’ve never heard of, and there will be players you think are bad. You may hate the coach, and time will tell if that’s a fair judgment or not.
But we’re in the final weeks of peak theoretical LAFC. The real world will be coming soon, and that’s exciting. But don’t be surprised if your dreams don’t fully turn out to be the reality that is the real world.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!