Of late, MLS has been one of the leagues with the heaviest home-field advantage around. Compared to other soccer leagues in the world, an expectation for a home win is strong because of parity between teams in general and because teams are comfortable picking up wins at home.
It’s no guarantee, of course, that playing at home means wins. Los Angeles Football Club winning four out of six games on the road so far this season is but one example that road wins can be had. But just about every team hangs their success on getting results at home — what happens on the road is often gravy.
On Sunday evening, LAFC officially open their new home, Banc of California Stadium, with a game against the Seattle Sounders. It’s a night filled with storylines — connections between the teams, the opening-day meeting in Seattle that LAFC won, and of course, the stadium. It’s also the first chance to make the stadium LAFC’s home, truly.
I expect a sellout for this game, naturally, and quite likely beyond. The 3252 will be rocking. There will be tifo and pageantry and beer and all manner of upscale dining options consumed.
Exposition Park will be overrun with new colors, black and gold, joining the cardinal and gold and the blue, gold and white of other teams that currently call the area home. People will ride the Metro, fight for parking, ride their bike or take a rideshare service to get to the game. It’s the very first time we’re doing this, coming together for a soccer team, a new one looking to settle in for the long haul.
LAFC aim to be a team where the performances are legendary, where the team gains respect and recognition both near and far. Breaking into the local market is not easy, with eight “Big 4” pro teams in the area, plus USC and UCLA, plus the Galaxy, plus the dozens of other fun diversions available to Southern Californians. While many teams aim to spread their wings beyond the local community and become a global club, LAFC can obtain both statuses at once — if they become a truly global club, Los Angeles will heartily support them, too.
But it doesn’t happen in one day. This is just the beginning.
Win, lose or draw, this is a big day for LAFC, the club, the team and the fans. It’s an occasion to treasure, but it’s only the beginning.
Settle into your spot at The Banc today, start to get to know your neighbors, because you’ll be seeing them a lot moving forward. Get a sense for the new digs. Watch the players on the field sweat it out for 90-plus minutes, and support them all the way. Be kind to each other.
We’ll all do our part to make LAFC’s new house a true home.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!